xanax48

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Most games tend to use a standard system for magic, MP. Characters have a certain amount of MP (say 200 at lv. 10) that increases with level and in battle they can cast abilities each costing various amounts of MP (fire 12mp, shiva 80mp).


There are exceptions like in Pokémon. Each use of an ability in Pokémon will always cost 1 point (hyper beam 10/10, quick attack 30/30). Using hyper beam all 10 times will never cause the pokemon to not be able to cast quick attack.


What pros and cons do you see with these systems and do you know of others? Which do you prefer? 
 
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Kes

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A con that I see is that in effect (and only to some extent) you are dictating the player's fighting style to them.  In the example you give it means that quick attack is to be preferred over hyper beam by a ratio of 3:1.  But what if I want to use hyper beam more often, say at a ratio of 2:1?  Not knowing the Pokemon games, that might be a silly example, but transferred to an rpg game I think my objection would hold.  If I choose to use the more costly skill, that is my strategic choice as e.g. I weigh up the cost versus the need to manage restorative capability.


I have nothing against cool-downs of different types so that a particular skill can't be spammed.  For example, in my own current project there are a few skills which have an MP cost and can only be used x number of times before resting at an inn.  The player therefore has to take strategic decisions about when to use these.  To have every skill as limited use would, I think, cause me frustration.
 

Milennin

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I just want to say that I highly respect... no, worship the way MP was handled in Guild Wars 1. For me, it changed the way I look at MP in RPGs permanently, and I set it as my standard when making my own games. Basically, it means having characters with low maximum MP, but there's a strong focus on MP management - either over time or through the use of attacks or skills. This way, the player is never dependant on potions or resting spots for their MP, but instead has to think of how they spend their MP in combat to maximise their efficiency.


Stuff that makes the system work:


-Low maximum MP.


-Passive MP regeneration.


-Ways to increase MP regeneration.


-Skills that refund a number of MP upon use.


When playing an RPG, I am still OK seeing the basic system (large MP pool, cast strong spells multiple times in a row, reliant on potions and resting spots) if at least the skills themselves are interesting, but it just isn't the same for me as when I get to really manage my characters' MP. I wish it was something that was done more often in RPGs.
 

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Never played Guild Wars, but that sounds like the way League of Legends handles their Energy resource. Unlike some MOBAs like DOTA 2, League actually has a variety of resources the different champions use.


Mana - Typical blue bar, rather large and lets you use whatever skills you want as long as you have enough mana left and the skill is off cooldown.


Energy - Yellow bar, comes in a fixed amount but regenerates very quickly but depletes quickly too so the player has to manage combos that restore energy for performing certain actions in order to chain longer combos.


Health - Uses the champion's green health bar to also fuel their skills, a couple champions have one skill that costs health and also use mana while others only use health and have no secondary resource.


Fury/Rage - Red bar, builds up over time either on its own or when performing certain actions like using basic attacks and is used differently by different champions, such as one that gains stats by filling it and can consume it to enhance his self-healing skill, another that can enhance his next skill after his bar fills up, and another that can only use her transformation skill when it is full and the bar then acts as a timer for when the transformation wears off.


Heat - Red bar, used by only one champion currently that fills up as he uses his skills and lets him deal bonus damage when his heat gauge is high but prevents him from using any skills for a time if the bar fills completely and "overheats" so he has to manage his casting to maximize damage while not shutting himself down.


Flow - White bar, used by only one champion currently and builds up as he walks and uses his movement dash skill, doing nothing until the bar fills up completely and when full grants him a shield to block incoming damage the next time he is hit.


Shield - Grey bar, used by only one champion currently that also uses his health as a resource and builds up as he deals damage and is depleted as he takes damage but his actual health cannot be touched until his shield is down, so he consumes health to cast his spells but his enemies cannot really touch the rest of his health as long as he deals enough damage and keeps fighting.


A lot of people like the MP / Mana bar system since it is really easy to manage only a single "casting" resource and only asks if the player has enough, similar to how a game asks if the player has enough money to buy items. But there is a lot of fun gameplay to be had with alternate resource systems. It depends on the overall goals of your combat system though - you have to know if you want the player to make lots of short-term tactical decisions that reset every fight, or if you want them to make long-term strategic decisions that persist throughout an entire dungeon run. 


MP is fantastic if you want to slowly bleed the player dry and make them panic as they watch their resources get lower.


Other systems are great if you want each combat encounter to be a frantic struggle with a resource that is constantly going up and down but without the worry that the resource will not be there for later encounters.
 

xanax48

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....For example, in my own current project there are a few skills which have an MP cost and can only be used x number of times before resting at an inn.  The player therefore has to take strategic decisions about when to use these.  To have every skill as limited use would, I think, cause me frustration.


I do like the aspect of limited useage and only restoring via an inn. I see it as causing the player to think about their actions instead of spamming skills...knowing that while it's not hard to replenish them it may be a while before they can do so.


Suikoden series via Inn


Pokémon series via Poke center 
 

xanax48

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....A lot of people like the MP / Mana bar system since it is really easy to manage only a single "casting" resource and only asks if the player has enough, similar to how a game asks if the player has enough money to buy items. But there is a lot of fun gameplay to be had with alternate resource systems. It depends on the overall goals of your combat system though - you have to know if you want the player to make lots of short-term tactical decisions that reset every fight, or if you want them to make long-term strategic decisions that persist throughout an entire dungeon run. 


MP is fantastic if you want to slowly bleed the player dry and make them panic as they watch their resources get lower.


Other systems are great if you want each combat encounter to be a frantic struggle with a resource that is constantly going up and down but without the worry that the resource will not be there for later encounters.


You make a good point. Most games do tend to stick with MP as its only system when there are so many other interesting ways to do the same thing just using a different path to get there. LoL completely slipped my mind... it launched with a half dozen ways to manage skill use and like you said some are currently in use by only one champion. Despite this, players of the game still don't get confused or frustrated, instead seemingly becoming that character and fighting on their terms.
 

Arithmetician

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@xanax48 Technically not my job, since I'm not a moderator, but just a friendly reminder that double-posting is against the rules on these forums.  If you make a post and then think of something else to say, you should edit the original post and add to that instead.  You're new, so you might not have known better.


That said, I agree with Basileus that there are many ways to manage resources in a game, which may or may not include traditional MP.  It depends on what you want to achieve.
 
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xanax48

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I just want to say that I highly respect... no, worship the way MP was handled in Guild Wars 1. For me, it changed the way I look at MP .....


When playing an RPG, I am still OK seeing the basic system (large MP pool, cast strong spells multiple times in a row, reliant on potions and resting spots) if at least the skills themselves are interesting, but it just isn't the same for me as when I get to really manage my characters' MP. I wish it was something that was done more often in RPGs.


It's a great feeling when you see something done so perfectly that it changes your viewpoint forever. Liking something because it's cool is one thing but breaking it down to a formula is on another level. I too wish that more developerst (indie or otherwise) would give a little more consideration to the skill system and therefore combat overall, instead of relying on the status quo. Although it can be fun if it was intentionally. 


* I'm with you for more interesting skill design.*
 

xanax48

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@xanax48 Technically not my job, since I'm not a moderator, but just a friendly reminder that double-posting is against the rules on these forums.  If you make a post and then think of something else to say, you should edit the original post and add to that instead.  You're new, so you might not have known better.


Thanks for the heads up. I think I just found how to quote multiple people in one reply. I'll use this from now on. 
 

Arithmetician

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@xanax48 Also, make sure not to quote whole posts when you do so.  It annoys the moderators.  When you don't need to quote someone but want to get their attention, just type @username convention.   So in my case, @Arithmetician.  
 

Kes

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It's not a question of annoying the moderators - many annoying things are ignored!  It's consideration for other members.  Quoting whole posts slows down the page loading and makes scrolling slower as well - especially for people accessing this on their phones, and there are a lot of them.


xanax48, please avoid double posting, as it is against the forum rules. You can review our forum rules here. Thank you.
 
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Since I've been thinking about Gust RPGs lately, Atelier Iris 2 and 3 ditched MP in favor of a team power gauge.  It worked more like TP, starting from zero, and going up as you do damage and combos and such.  All characters charge and consume the same bar.  So you might have all of your party members wailing away at monsters for a few turns so that one character can charge up a super attack that consumes 3 levels of power gauge.  Yanfly has a plugin for this:  http://yanfly.moe/2016/02/06/yep-67-party-limit-gauge/


The main con for this system is that it only really works if you are fighting a powerful opponent.  If you are fighting enemies that go down in 1 or 2 hits, you're not going to charge your bar at all.  The Atelier Iris games addressed this by throwing insanely fierce monsters at you all of the time.  But this means that after a certain point, every monster encounter is like a boss battle, and the later levels can get very time consuming.  And it's more of a strain on the developer to come up with genuinely difficult encounters all the time.  Another con is that it puts more limitations on your skill-use resources, so you tend to stick to a favorites instead of using every single skill at your disposal.  So you end up with one character using skills, and all the other characters boosting the gauge.  


The pro for this system is that it's more strategic than using MP, and it's more rewarding to use skills since you have to work to charge them up.  Actually, a lot like Limit Breaks.  I guess it's like if you just used Limit Breaks for everything instead of MP.  


 - 


Final Fantasy 8 also skipped MP, but people tend to give it grief for doing so.  Magic works like items.  When you use a Fire spell, it's gone, you can't charge it back up at the Pokemon Center, but you can Draw more Fire spells from Draw Points or firey monsters.  (and deeper in the game, there are various ways to get more magic)  You could also junction spells to your stats.  So for example, you might junction Fire to your ATK stat.  So each Fire Spell would raise ATK by 0.2, so if you have 50 Fire spells, you've got +10 ATK.  But if you cast Fire while it's junctioned, you're going to eventually reduce your ATK stat.  And while normal magic worked like that, GFs (Summon Magic) could be cast for free, and using GFs would increase their GF levels and make them do more damage.  The only catch was that GFs took longer to cast, and GFs could take damage while being summoned, but this was sorta offset because summoning GFs more would increase their summoning speed.  FF8 also had the ability to use Limit Breaks infinitely, so if you could set that up, Limit Breaks were usually automatically better than Magic, although I think Irvine's consumed items and Rinoa and Selphie consumed magic for theirs.  


So in practice, there was almost never any reason to cast any sort of Magic, except for a few staples like Cure, Esuna and Aura, and even then, generally better to junction them.  This was especially true as you got into the end-game spells, Flare, Meteor, Holy and Ultima.  But it also meant that spells which are usually useless like Demi and Shell could still be useful as junctions.  And the GFs were interesting enough that doing nothing but summon GFs could still be fun, but I think they could have done more with GFs if they had realized that there was no reason to use the rest of the battle system.  


 - 


It also surprised me to learn that the original RPG, Dungeons and Dragons does not use MP.  D&D uses the concept of spells-per-day.  So you might be able to prepare 5x lvl1 spells, 3x lvl2 spells and 1x lvl3 spell in one day.  Wizards would have to prepare specific spells, so you might say, okay, today I'm going to prepare 3 Magic Missiles, 1 Speak with Animals and 1 Exploding Runes.  Sorcerers would be able to use their spells-per-day to cast any spell they know, but they don't know as many spells as Wizards do.  Fun Fact, Final Fantasy 1 also borrowed this system from D&D, instead of MP.  


Cons: this system struck me as incredibly tedious to set up.  I would be constantly second guessing my magic choices and wondering if it were the right time to use my only Speak with Animals spell of the day or if I should save it for something later.  I never liked this idea, and it has kept me from ever even wanting to play a magic user in D&D.  I guess it's less math than counting MP for table top games, but it feels like the alternative would be so much more complicated.  But I will say that a spells-per-day mechanic would make more sense if you were something like a mad scientist inventor or alchemist, where the spells per day represents gadgets or potions or something that the character is crafting on the fly.  
 

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I find that any system that puts a clock on how long a player can use their skills that persist from one battle to the next to be an extreamly tedious system. What these systems say to the player is "get well acquanted with the inn/ect 'cause you're gonna need it". This is actually just a way of developers adding artificial game time or being lazy (sometimes their are legit reasons but those are rare).


I very much like how FF XIII and the sequels battle systems would do a full heal after every battle as it took away the tedium of "well I am done with that battle, time to go through a bunch of menus and maybe even backtrack to be healthy enough just incase there is a surprise boss".
 

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@Dr. Delibird


As a long-time Dragon Quest player I actually disliked that change in FF XIII. It made me feel like the misc battles had even less purpose than normal. You would always face every encounter and every boss at full HP, so there was no lingering tension or sense of challenge to the "dungeons" for me. There wasn't even MP or anything to replace it in gating skills within a single encounter. All skills were free (except for those couple "command" type skills that ran off points you accumulated in fights) so there was never a need to conserve skills between fights or within a fight. It made it feel like the only tactic was "spam the biggest skills that hit the right elemental weaknesses until it dies"...like more so than an RPG normally does. 


It's somewhat balanced in FF XIII at least since every single enemy in the game has colossal HP to lock the player into relying on the new chain gauge/stagger mechanic. But this just made me feel weak even though I was spamming skills like no tomorrow. There was definitely a good sense of tactics with the different "Paradigms" and using the different "class" skills together, but any fight where I can spam Thundaga that much should never take that long.
 

Kes

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Just a gentle reminder to everyone to make sure that your post addresses the point under discussion and does not become simply a discussion about other games.


Thanks.
 

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@Basileus I think the reason why I liked the lack of MP in FF XIII is because it streamlined the game and I think that is the point, or at the very least one of the points for remove the MP rescource. In that game in particular regular battles would be much more tedious if you had to refrain from using MP or have to restore MP after every battle. Since that game was mostly trying to leen on it's story more than it's gameplay.


In a game like any of the Dragon Quest games, battles are there to provide tension that the story usually lacks (not saying the story is bad or has no tension but that the refular battles make up for a good portion of the tension).


So at least from my percepective, you really need to look at what your game is trying to achieve it and work back from their to figure out how you are going to handle MP (or any aspect really). Like I could not imagine playing a Pokemon game where each pokemon has a MP stat instead of PP for each individual move, not just because the PP system is ingrained into what Pokemon is but also because the player would be forced to heal quite often and that is not even taking into account HP. I couldn't even begin to imagine how Dragon Quest would be if the skills had cooldowns instead of MP.
 
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So it's as good a time as any to point out that resource-management can be fun, there are entire games where that is the point, and that is the original appeal to having a limited supply of HP, MP, items or whatever.  So a major downside to any system that lacks MP or any system that heals you after combat is that it has removed the appeal of resource-management.  I have played a few games where you are healed up after combat or all skills are free, and they really aren't as exciting, they lack the big risk-payoff factor.  In a game like Atelier Iris 2 & 3 or FF13, you are basically managing resources per-battle instead of per-dungeon, so it's still there, but it kinda feels like training wheels.  Personally, I felt like FF13 would have made a great anime or point 'n click adventure, but it was a mediocre RPG, precisely because it fell short on resource-management and other nitpicky qualities.  


And like anything, some people enjoy resource-management, some people find it tedious or a waste of time.  And that ties in to Dr. Delibird's last comment, decide what your game should be.  Do you want the fun to focus on resource-management, or on other aspects like exploration or character development or world building.  
 

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