Do You Have Healing?

Pootscooter

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I get the feeling this might be a divisive topic. I wanted to see if people include or exclude healing in their games. I don't mean via consumables, I'm referring to spells. If you have a healing-capable party member, are they pure healers (i.e. White Mage) or do they have non-healing spells in addition to their healing capabilities (i.e. Red Mage)? I'm trying to understand why someone would want to remove healing from their game while emphasizing healing potions at the same time. It confuses me cuz an HP pot is basically a Healing spell w/o the MP cost, right? I've seen it done the other way too. Like emphasizing Healing spells but de-emphasizing potions/consumables.
 

CHKNRAVE

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In my project, I've chosen to make healing skills pull all the weight and only be usable in battle as a strategic element in combat. I fully heal party members after battles, so I can increase the difficulty in battle. Usually, you have to make battles easier for the player, because they'll have other battles later that they could have to do without the ability to fully heal.

The downside of healing items out of combat is that the player has no idea if the consumables they brought will be enough for the current expedition, if that's not the case they have to go back and forth to get more which isn't a great experience, and that's if they don't run out of HP on their way back.

You could make the player sink their money into healing items, if that's your mechanic to make the player lose some of the money they earned. But you could also tone down the income or have other mechanics like needs that the player will have to periodically spend money on. This second approach is what I've chosen to steer the player towards activities that generate money, and it discourages mindless mob grinding for XP because monsters don't have wallets to loot money from. If the player doesn't take care of the characters' needs, fights become a lot harder for them so grinding becomes dangerous or ineffective.
 

gstv87

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every game has stages to clear.
if you allow one attempt at clearing that stage, that's a survival game.
if you allow multiple attempts, that's an arcade.
if you want to have an RPG or an adventure game, you must have a way to alter that allowed number of attempts to some degree.
enter, health, healing, and death-negation mechanics.

it's as simple as that, simple resource management 101: your ability to clear a stage depends on the number of tries you have.... you want a lengthier game? add more tries.
if you can't add "lives" as they are, because that'd break the reasonable laws of physics of your setting, you add *healing*, which maintains the one life.

whether that healing is spells, items, regenerative bathtubs, or save points, is of no consequence.... that's just flavoring.
 

Aerosys

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I think you can use both, Items and Heal spells. But you should be careful that none of them gets obsolete. In most (old) RPGs you end up having 99 minor Potions as your Healer is strong enough anyway. That's the point that I think you should try to avoid. In a completely different Thread I once red a post, in which somebody uses a Crafting Station that allows the Player to exchange let's say 5 minor Potions to get a bigger one. Potions should be valuable, so you can place rewardable loot chests. Next thing, obviously, the Healer should not be OP. Heal spells should cost lot of MP or have a cooldown, or work differently like absorbing, or regen over time, or barrier, it should not be "Vita III" or "Revive Ally with 80% HP".
 

Wavelength

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I get the feeling this might be a divisive topic. I wanted to see if people include or exclude healing in their games. I don't mean via consumables, I'm referring to spells. If you have a healing-capable party member, are they pure healers (i.e. White Mage) or do they have non-healing spells in addition to their healing capabilities (i.e. Red Mage)?
I generally include healing in my games but I always spend a lot of effort designing it in a way that - while it doesn't feel oppressive - also doesn't allow the player to easily erase mistakes (and thus make battle pointless or boring).

In one game, the cheap "bread and butter"-type healing spells have a fixed number of charges per battle so that the heals have to be used wisely; other available heals are either weak side-bonuses of attack skills, or very expensive "emergency glass"-type healing spells that offer a big heal but drain an even bigger portion of the user's MP pool (and in that game MP-restoring items are very hard to come by).

In another, I use an "Exhaustion" mechanic where after taking damage, the character's Max HP starts to slowly drop by a percentage of the damage taken (winning combat stops any further drop) - only eating consumable items or returning to an Inn can restore your Max HP. So you can heal as much damage with healing spells as you need to, in order to avoid the "acute" threat of getting spiked down to 0HP within a few turns from tough enemies - but the "chronic" threat of having your Max HP whittled away slowly over time makes it risky to just fight everything you see in a dungeon, and also encourages both strategic planning (avoiding damage) and risk-taking within combat (finishing troops off quickly instead of keeping your party topped off with heals) because each can minimize the amount of Exhaustion you take.

I'm trying to understand why someone would want to remove healing from their game while emphasizing healing potions at the same time. It confuses me cuz an HP pot is basically a Healing spell w/o the MP cost, right? I've seen it done the other way too. Like emphasizing Healing spells but de-emphasizing potions/consumables.
So there are a lot of details and exceptions to this, but as a general big-picture answer, the reason this design can be good is because most games offer easy ways to refill MP.

Whether that's coming from frequent MP-refilling Save Points, cheap and common MP-refilling items like Ethers, or just automatic MP restoration after each battle, a lot of games don't force you to get stingy with your MP across a dungeon. I'd even say that's a good thing, because the most fun part of most RPGs' battles is slinging your skills to hit enemies with big numbers and take a bunch of them down at once!

But when you have reliable, powerful heals available that can wipe out anything the opponents do to your party, those heals become the most important way to use your MP, and the characters' Max MP totals don't actually limit the number of times you can use those healing spells in practice because of the easy Refills.

So a player can just sit there and mash "Attack" without even thinking about tactics or pace (often this is actually more time-efficient than browsing menus in a boring combat system), take hits from enemies, and just use the Heal spell to erase all the damage they took whenever an HP bar starts to get low. It's the worst type of combat dynamic and reliable, powerful heals actually encourage that dynamic. :(

Consumables, on the other hand, are something that you can only "refill" as much as your Gold allows you to. If the only way to recover half your HP is a 1000 Gold potion, rather than a 4 MP spell, or if you can only carry a limited number of potions into a dungeon, then you are going to be much more careful about taking damage - and additionally, the designer can introduce elements that will challenge the players without spiking them to 0 HP in a single turn! This kind of design requires carefully tuning the game's economy (or its availability of consumables), but if done right it allows the player to enjoy slinging skills every battle without cheapening the experience by allowing all damage to be waved away with healing spells.

Obviously you don't want to make the healing potions cost like 5 Gold (unless you are explicitly limiting the number that the party can carry at once, or you're doing something even wackier like limited shop stock), or you wind back right at square one. There's no magic bullet to shortcut good game design and careful balancing. Often, the perfect dynamic is where there's a tradeoff between purchasing better equipment vs. purchasing more consumables.

Rather than thinking of a Potion as "a healing spell without the MP cost", it might be better to think of a healing spell as "a potion without the Gold cost". :)
 

alice_gristle

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Spyin' this with my little eye, 'cause I was thinking of making a game without healing spells! :biggrin: I've always hated the white mage archetype in Final Fantasy, because it was always like, you gotta have one to enable all your other dudes to do the fun stuff... Like, being the sucky kid who has to be the goalie while the cool kids get to run after the ball.
 

Pootscooter

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I'm a bit torn and unsure of what to do. Currently, a lv1 hero starts w/ 60MP, and by max lv they'll have ~500MP minimum (before gear). So let's say 600MP w/ gear. Now, my problem is...I don't want to have multiple tiers of spells like Heal1, Heal2, Heal3, and so on. Instead, the amount healed scales off the user's MAT. I currently have the bread 'n butter Heal set at 30MP cost. This means the user can cast Heal twice at lv1 before going OOM (out of mana). However, by max level they'll have enough MP to cast Heal 20 times before considering any MP regen. That is a bit too much imo... Now, I've considered making the MP cost scale as well, but I'm not sure if players will find that acceptable. What do?
 

BrentBAM

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I wanted to add that maybe skill cool downs could help. If you didn't want your character to be able to heal every turn you could make a cool down of maybe 3 turns. So that the player can't spam healing every turn if you did not want that. Then they'd have to strategize their use of healing more.
 

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(rides a grocery out of an interstate on-ramp)

Evening makers of game! I have been told by my muse dealer that you are seeking improved methods to the concepts of healing? I have scratched my neck many a remission and am now here to deliver the ideas of which these necks scars have produced!

(slaps old McDonald's happymeal onto kitchen table)

Step one... the game of which this has one created, utilizes long cooldowns and high mp costs for all spells, including the healing ones. We're talking half your mana per cast if you don't have mana stuff going on! It is ridiculous! MP structuring is a requirement, especially since later items can reduce your total mana. It is beautiful horror! Steal any valuable ideas this paragraph may provide.

Step two... the game of which this has one created, causes all items to give a healing debuff after use. One that scales from -75% on the first turn, -50% on the 2nd, and then -25% on the 3rd! This is achieved by secretly adding multiple debuffs unbeknownst to the player! I love that word! Unbeknownst! It was unbeknownst to me until just now how much I loved it! Now it is beknownst!

Step three, there is no step 3!

Follow these three steps of 3 you shall bask in increased gam mak! Good day mortals.
 
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Frostorm

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@Pootscooter If possible, my 1st instinct would be to simply lower the MaxMP of the max level unit. Maybe instead of 600, you could try 400 or something?

Step one... the game of which this has one created, utilizes long cooldowns and high mp costs for all spells, including the healing ones. We're talking half your mana per cast if you don't have mana stuff going on! It is ridiculous!
Cool, I do the same thing! Also, I've recently contemplated using MAT to inversely affect MP Costs (MCR), since my game uses MDF to increase MaxMP. I feel like this way, players have to weigh whether they want to hit hard (but have the spells cost a bit more) or cast more often. MDF also increases Healing Received (REC) in my game as well.

At 1st I was apprehensive but then I thought about the conservation of (magical) energy. Basically, if a spell is hitting harder (via a higher MAT stat for instance), then that extra energy has to come from somewhere. And where else would it come from other than the user's Mana pool? :p

Edit: I also wanted to add that Intellect (MAT) in my game also increases Crit chance and Crit multiplier for Spells (I subtract the bonus Crit chance & multiplier from Dexterity (AGI) & Strength (ATK) then add it back in using Intellect (MAT) instead). This keeps the Intellect stat attractive despite the increased MP Costs that come w/ it.
 
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Jrrkein

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I really like to slap a TP cost or alternative cost to use a healing spells, even you just use MP recovery items or spells that might out-balance the use of healing spells and make players more dependent and scarce than it was, Sure MP items are hard to get, but they might easy to come by from monster drops, quest or other reward factor.

This why I use TP for healing spells, so it much time to cast it like 30 TP with 3 turn cooldown throw it in than being able just using MP is counterproductive and it may be bit unbalance unless set the cost way expensive for early game and balance out in the late gameplay.
 

Aerosys

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I'm a bit torn and unsure of what to do. Currently, a lv1 hero starts w/ 60MP, and by max lv they'll have ~500MP minimum (before gear). So let's say 600MP w/ gear. Now, my problem is...I don't want to have multiple tiers of spells like Heal1, Heal2, Heal3, and so on. Instead, the amount healed scales off the user's MAT. I currently have the bread 'n butter Heal set at 30MP cost. This means the user can cast Heal twice at lv1 before going OOM (out of mana). However, by max level they'll have enough MP to cast Heal 20 times before considering any MP regen. That is a bit too much imo... Now, I've considered making the MP cost scale as well, but I'm not sure if players will find that acceptable. What do?
Instead of scaling MP costs, maybe it helps you when the MaxMP of this Character wouldn't scale that much with leveling or not increase at all? In games like Dark Souls or Star Wars Fallen Order you can heal like 3-5 times between checkpoints and that's all. Maybe that could be some inspiration for you.
 

Wavelength

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I'm a bit torn and unsure of what to do. Currently, a lv1 hero starts w/ 60MP, and by max lv they'll have ~500MP minimum (before gear). So let's say 600MP w/ gear. Now, my problem is...I don't want to have multiple tiers of spells like Heal1, Heal2, Heal3, and so on. Instead, the amount healed scales off the user's MAT. I currently have the bread 'n butter Heal set at 30MP cost. This means the user can cast Heal twice at lv1 before going OOM (out of mana). However, by max level they'll have enough MP to cast Heal 20 times before considering any MP regen. That is a bit too much imo... Now, I've considered making the MP cost scale as well, but I'm not sure if players will find that acceptable. What do?
As a few others have suggested, you could consider having the characters' Max MP barely scale throughout the game (example: 60 MP at beginning, maybe 150 MP with gear in endgame - meaning 5 heals by using the entire pool rather than 20). This approach would force you to reconsider what you're doing with other spells (such as Fireball and Paralyze, especially if you use the Fire 1 - Fire 2 - Fire 3 approach with increasing costs for offensive spells); you may be well-served by using the same kind of MAT-scaling single-spell paradigm with those spells too, however.

On a broader level, though, I wonder whether you may be attached to healing as a "standby" of the genre without really examining what it might be adding to or subtracting from your gameplay. It might be worthwhile to think through, and write down, your answers to questions like the following:
  • The reason I want healing in my game at all is _______________________.
  • The reason I want MP to be convertible to HP through healing spells is ________________________.
  • The reason I want healing spells to compete with offensive spells for MP is _______________________.
  • The reason players will need to watch their MP at all levels (OR the reason I don't want them to have to watch it) is ______________________.
  • When players use Healing Spells in my game, what it will do for their play experience is _____________________.
 

MichaelRIR

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I get the feeling this might be a divisive topic. I wanted to see if people include or exclude healing in their games. I don't mean via consumables, I'm referring to spells. If you have a healing-capable party member, are they pure healers (i.e. White Mage) or do they have non-healing spells in addition to their healing capabilities (i.e. Red Mage)? I'm trying to understand why someone would want to remove healing from their game while emphasizing healing potions at the same time. It confuses me cuz an HP pot is basically a Healing spell w/o the MP cost, right? I've seen it done the other way too. Like emphasizing Healing spells but de-emphasizing potions/consumables.
You specifically mentioned that you don't mean items, but only spells... but I'll chime in anyways.

In my game there are zero healing *items*. There is passive healing regeneration outside of combat, but other than that, a healing spell is required. I'm aiming for an MMO feel though, so that's why I went with that design.
 

Jennavieve

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I can't really think of any RPG games I've played that didn't have some form of healing magic. Maybe something in a sci-fi setting, or any world without magic, it would make sense though.

My game does have healing magic but I don't have any dedicated healers really. I've personally always found cleric/white mage type classes to be incredibly boring so that's something I decided not to include for my game. Most of my classes though have at least one healing ability that they can use in addition to their other abilities.

For instance, my Dark Knight has a health drain, my Guardian has a DoT healing spell, and my Sorcerer has a regular healing spell.
 

RCXDan

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Huh. Truthfully the title of this thread should be something more like "Why do you have healing" since that's more open ended.

But yeah for me, I have healing but I don't make it easy unless I want to crank on casual mode.

Healing items are limited by stack, so generally the better they are, the less you can bring. Not only that, but every health potion drains MP to heal your HP. The max HP potion drains half of your overall MP if I remember correctly. It and the stack adds a level of interaction I don't feel is usually there.

Your MP regens both in and out of battle and everything costs a percentage, so you're never supposed to get stuck outright.

Healing spells on the other hand... I have many with different effects based on the element, and usually they'll replace the previous tier if needed, usually with some new effect.

Healing based on a percentage? Light element.
Healing and bad status removal? Luna element.
Healing and regen effect? Earth element.

Counterplay is big in my games - expect the enemies to hit hard and have thought behind their attacks, such as inflicting a state that doesn't let you heal at all.

I like thinking about this kinda stuff. :)
 

TheGameBrewery

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In my first game I had a dedicated healer but it was meant as a stereotypical JRPG. My second game had optional healing skills and equipment that has regeneration. My current project, once again, has a dedicated healer. Usually, anything class-based tends to have some form of a healer character.
 

Cyberhawk

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Healing is like an essential thing unless you have other ways of regaining hp in fights imo. A cooldown on healing isn't a good go-to answer unless it's a skill that restores all HP and clears all ailments and debuffs then it warrants it more.
Healing still takes only one person for and it stops doesnt let them deal damage. I also tend to use Priestess/ Priest (I think you'd consider that a red mage.) and they would have Light magic and buffs/debuffs.
But in the current game i'm making right now, the dedicated healers join the party at like level 30 or mid game, the previous options were using potions, First Aid (which uses potions) and a skill that slightly heals the party and specific Ailments.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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I mean, I love support in games. But there's much more to support than just healing. Buffing allies to kick butt, giving them a second chance to succeed, shutting down enemies with debuffs and ailments... I love it. I can't stand White Mages who are meant to be healbots, especially if they're nigh-mandatory. I greatly prefer D&D Clerics for that regard, who can fight dece and do more than just heal.

That said? Stripping away healing as a class skill, or trivializing it to consumable use (unless the game's item-focused) isn't ideal for me. Having ways to mitigate or undo damage is key in games. Super Mario would be draconian without a means to get more powerups, as Sonic would be without the chance to regain lost rings, et cetera. There are exceptions to this rule, such as feeling plenty powerful when high-end Fallout 1 armor makes you virtually immune to small arms. Still, seeing a topped-off HP meter makes me feel safer than the DEF on my armor.

In the case of healing, may I share some examples from my WIP? I'm working on a three-classes-per-character system. The four characters has at least one class that can heal, but it's all limited or restricted in some way. All skills cost either MP or TP too, but that's just a price of admission.
  • My MC can self-heal with her Pyromancer class, or boost consumables with her Chemist class and its Pharmacology passive. Raziya can't heal others with her pyro mantra, only herself. And if there's no items to improve with item lore, what's the point?
  • The Chemist can also Mix a la Final Fantasy 5 with no MP / TP cost, but those raw ingredients are expensive for how potent the mixing effects are. Let alone using the flavor extracts to make a cocktail that doesn't restore HP.
  • Her bestie's healing-adjacent skill is still limited. Jengo could give himself Auto-Life as a Gallant, but he'd need to self-damage to activate it. Players would need to decide to use it early in a boss fight, or if the battle's going south enough to try it. There's also the risk that an enemy could dispel all buffs on the team, including Auto-Life, a la Dragon Quest's Disruptive Wave skill.
  • Likewise, her new friend also sacrifices her own health with a Wish spell to heal someone else, when playing as an Illusionist. If cast upon Maia herself, it's a great way to waste a turn and MP, as the healing is barely higher than the health she must sacrifice. It's also not a great idea to bail out a sinking ship by having her cast it to get incrementally more HP back, either.
  • Lastly the lancer, who has more potent healing than the rest. Nazreen's Shaman class has a spell that acts like an FF White Wind: the healing scales with her remaining HP. If cast with less than half of her HP left, it'll barely help herself or another ally. Even the revive spell, exclusive to being a Shaman, costs her HP.
  • Her Minstrel class has a HP-regen song that affects the party, but can only be used in battle and only restores 15% HP per round. It'll balance out the slip damage of Poison (and more than one HP-degen effect exists and can stack), but isn't ideal against hard-hitting foes. And like Jengo's Auto-Life, it can be fizzled out prematurely.
This isn't even counting consumables themselves! HP potions for battles are somewhat pricey, while revival and MP potions are worse and harder to come by. To offset this, food items exist to be eaten out of battle. I want players to make hard decisions on whether or not to bail from a dungeon, and if they wanna backtrack or just teleport out. And yes, teleporting isn't free either.
 
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