Guard/Defend in an "Action Point" battle system

Neo Soul Gamer

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Hey guys,


I need some feedback on a battle system I'm trying to create in RMMV. To explain it quickly, It's an Action Point battle system where each battler takes as many turns as they can before the party's turn ends. Action Points are automatically replenished at the end of each turn, and you can also carry over Action Points to the next turn.


I've seen this executed in several RPGs before, and one thing I'm noticing about the ones I've seen is that there isn't a "guard/defend" command. Which is totally understandable due to the mechanics of the battle system.


Typically, guarding is something you do to minimize damage, and you use up your entire turn to do it. However, Guarding in this kind of battle system would change the way Action Points are consumed, as it wouldn't make sense to guard while you're attacking. 


So my first question is... Any ideas?


I have one, but I'm leery of how it'll effect balancing. My original plan is to have a Guard command that consumes all remaining Action Points. The amount of Action Points remaining at the time of choosing the Guard command will determine how effective the Guard will be. For example, using 1 AP to guard will reduce less damage than a guard that used 3 AP.


This leads me to my second question, what are your thoughts on this particular mechanic?


Thanks for your help!
 

Arithmetician

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So is it character has a pool of action points, and each action consumes a certain amount of them, with the ability to save them between turns.


That sounds like Bravely Default's battle system.


In Bravely Default, you may act up to four times in a row by selecting "Brave" for each action beyond the first that you wish to perform, provided that you have non-negative Brave Points (BP).  Standard actions, whether attacking, casting spells, or using items, have a default cost of 1 BP.  Some powerful actions cost additional BP to execute. If you have negative BP, you must skip your turn until you have 0 or more BP again.


The player may also choose to "Default" on their turn, entering a guard stance but performing no other actions.  Default does not consume any BP.  Since BP regenerates by 1 each turn, you'd be at -1 after performing a standard action and at 0 at the start of the next turn, letting you act again.  But if you Default, you'll "save" the BP you would have spent and start the next turn at 1 BP.  Now you can act twice on your turn without losing your next turn.  Of course, if you choose to act three times, that would bring you to -2 BP and then -1 BP on your next turn, so you'd have to skip it.  And if you acted four times, you'd go down to -3 and would then have to skip two turns.


Also, players may store up to 3 BP each in Bravely Default.
 
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HexMozart88

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I honestly don't see a point in guarding except in an ABS. It just wastes a turn and it hardly makes a difference one way or another. I would much prefer to use an End Turn command that restores AP over something like guard. 
 

Arithmetician

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@HexMozart88  That was the true genius of the Default command in Bravely Default - it both defends (with a 50% damage reduction, crucial against some attacks) and restores BP, allowing you to act twice the next turn, so the turn Defaulting isn't wasted, merely deferred until it is more strategically useful.   You could tank the enemy until you have three BP and then unleash four consecutive attacks without losing multiple turns.  Or you could just try to eliminate the enemy with fours attack from each character from the start... but then have to lose three turns, in which case you're a sitting duck if they survived.  And enemies hit hard.  Deciding how to balance Brave and Default added a lot of depth to the game.
 
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Pine Towers

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In a combat, your objective most of the time is to kill the enemy. Guarding does nothing for this and can't be a gimmicky feature to be used against one or two types of monsters or Bosses.


Make Guard more than just guard:

  • Fighter: Add a Counter Strike (and increase aggro to force attack) to the Guard command so he can play the retribution over his foes.
  • Thief: Make it like a Steal and Stealth. The thief steals an item and/or, if successful, puts its aggro to 0%.
  • Mage: Recover MP, but if damaged it deals damage to MP instead of HP.
  • Priest: Delivers a weak healing aura to all allies.



Guarding is one of the lamest option in combat since there's always other option more interesting, so the focus should be in making the player even think of using it. Building on your AP points, each AP spent on Guarding increases/improves the secondary effect of guarding as exemplified above.
 

Feliaria

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Actually, what I did for my game was change the default guard to, rather than reducing damage taken, increase the user's CNT by 100%. Then each class has its own unique counterattack. Other than with the characters' Parry skill, no one has any counterattack stat.
 

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In a previous game of mine I, too, had counter attack and it restored a small amount of HP as well as the usual reduction of damage.  Feedback from players included the point that at the end of a battle, when they were confident of finishing off the enemy with one or two allies, the others could get a small amount of healing, so helping with resource management.  They found it useful to do this as it gave a small, but helpful, strategic use for the choice.
 
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boomy

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In Arc Rise Fantasia, the battle takes place on a 2D plane where characters can perform many actions (based on available AP) and defend was probably one of the most important skills in the game when battling against bosses. Bosses often would have very powerful attacks which could easily wipe out the party if defend was not used. The characters in the game would usually give an audio cue when selecting actions (like saying "I have a bad feeling about this") when they expected the enemy to unleash a powerful attack and using the defend option would be a wise move to reduce damage / survive a fatal blow. 

How defend would worked was up to the player. These were the possible scenarios

Defend ONLY and basically save all AP for the next turn. Defend was an instant skill (gets used instantly in terms of turn order) and thus you were protected for the entire duration of the turn. The main issue was you could not do anything else during that turn.


Perform actions then defend. If you were too greedy, the character was too slow or the enemy was too fast, you would end up defending AFTER being hit. Ideally you would perform some quick actions such as heal (the game had a turn order and some moves caused more delay than others) and then defend before you got hit. This introduced some risk because some enemy attacks would be performed early in the turn order whilst others had to charge up and only be performed near the end of the turn order.

Defend then perform actions. This strategy worked if the enemy used an attack early in the turn order.

The game had a chart to show when your actions would be performed relative to the enemy and other characters. This allowed you to plan better and decide when to defend. 

Obviously your game may not follow this mechanic in which case defend would have less of an impact. 
 

Neo Soul Gamer

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So is it character has a pool of action points, and each action consumes a certain amount of them, with the ability to save them between turns.


That sounds like Bravely Default's battle system.


In Bravely Default, you may act up to four times in a row by selecting "Brave" for each action beyond the first that you wish to perform, provided that you have non-negative Brave Points (BP).  Standard actions, whether attacking, casting spells, or using items, have a default cost of 1 BP.  Some powerful actions cost additional BP to execute. If you have negative BP, you must skip your turn until you have 0 or more BP again.


The player may also choose to "Default" on their turn, entering a guard stance but performing no other actions.  Default does not consume any BP.  Since BP regenerates by 1 each turn, you'd be at -1 after performing a standard action and at 0 at the start of the next turn, letting you act again.  But if you Default, you'll "save" the BP you would have spent and start the next turn at 1 BP.  Now you can act twice on your turn without losing your next turn.  Of course, if you choose to act three times, that would bring you to -2 BP and then -1 BP on your next turn, so you'd have to skip it.  And if you acted four times, you'd go down to -3 and would then have to skip two turns.


Also, players may store up to 3 BP each in Bravely Default.



It pretty much is Bravely Default's system, without going into the negative for the BP (or AP, in my case). I can actually recreate that system pretty easily. But I was skeptical of making a blatant rip-off.

I honestly don't see a point in guarding except in an ABS. It just wastes a turn and it hardly makes a difference one way or another. I would much prefer to use an End Turn command that restores AP over something like guard. 



Agreed, and that's the whole point of the topic. Expanding the guarding mechanic so that it can add a unique element of strategy. 

Actually, what I did for my game was change the default guard to, rather than reducing damage taken, increase the user's CNT by 100%. Then each class has its own unique counterattack. Other than with the characters' Parry skill, no one has any counterattack stat.



That's a neat idea. I'm not so much concerned about the effects of guarding. More about how they'll work with the AP mechanic.

In a previous game of mine I, too, had counter attack and it restored a small amount of HP as well as the usual reduction of damage.  Feedback from players included the point that at the end of a battle, when they were confident of finishing off the enemy with one or two allies, the others could get a small amount of healing, so helping with resource management.  They found it useful to do this as it gave a small, but helpful, strategic use for the choice.



I like that idea as well.

In Arc Rise Fantasia, the battle takes place on a 2D plane where characters can perform many actions (based on available AP) and defend was probably one of the most important skills in the game when battling against bosses. Bosses often would have very powerful attacks which could easily wipe out the party if defend was not used. The characters in the game would usually give an audio cue when selecting actions (like saying "I have a bad feeling about this") when they expected the enemy to unleash a powerful attack and using the defend option would be a wise move to reduce damage / survive a fatal blow. 

How defend would worked was up to the player. These were the possible scenarios

Defend ONLY and basically save all AP for the next turn. Defend was an instant skill (gets used instantly in terms of turn order) and thus you were protected for the entire duration of the turn. The main issue was you could not do anything else during that turn.


Perform actions then defend. If you were too greedy, the character was too slow or the enemy was too fast, you would end up defending AFTER being hit. Ideally you would perform some quick actions such as heal (the game had a turn order and some moves caused more delay than others) and then defend before you got hit. This introduced some risk because some enemy attacks would be performed early in the turn order whilst others had to charge up and only be performed near the end of the turn order.

Defend then perform actions. This strategy worked if the enemy used an attack early in the turn order.

The game had a chart to show when your actions would be performed relative to the enemy and other characters. This allowed you to plan better and decide when to defend. 

Obviously your game may not follow this mechanic in which case defend would have less of an impact. 



See this is interesting. But that seems to only work with game that have a speed/agility component in determining turn order. In my battle system, all players act, then all enemies act. If my battle system, if you're going to defend and reduce damage, I feel that this should consume a turn, not save it. If no turn is to be consumed, then the battler should have some kind of penalty. 

In a combat, your objective most of the time is to kill the enemy. Guarding does nothing for this and can't be a gimmicky feature to be used against one or two types of monsters or Bosses.


Make Guard more than just guard:

  • Fighter: Add a Counter Strike (and increase aggro to force attack) to the Guard command so he can play the retribution over his foes.
  • Thief: Make it like a Steal and Stealth. The thief steals an item and/or, if successful, puts its aggro to 0%.
  • Mage: Recover MP, but if damaged it deals damage to MP instead of HP.
  • Priest: Delivers a weak healing aura to all allies.



Guarding is one of the lamest option in combat since there's always other option more interesting, so the focus should be in making the player even think of using it. Building on your AP points, each AP spent on Guarding increases/improves the secondary effect of guarding as exemplified above.



So far, this is my favorite suggestion. A guard command that's unique to each battler. And again, the more AP consumed for the guard, the better the effect.
 

Wavelength

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Speaking specifically to an Action Point system here:


I agree that it's kind of awkward to allow a character to attack and guard in the same turn, so the way I could see it working best would be to only allow Guard when the character has taken no other actions already this turn.  They can choose to "Guard" which reduces damage (and maybe has other effects like resisting statuses) for the turn, and they also get to keep their AP for next turn.  That seems like a pretty fair tradeoff.  Maybe it costs 1AP to use.


Alternatively, you could get rid of the standard Guard command completely, but give several characters skills that can reduce damage taken for a turn (possibly alongside attacking).  Maybe a quick Riposte with the sword.  Maybe a magical wall built by a mage.  You can get creative, and since the move doesn't take up the whole turn like in a DBS, you don't need to make it ridiculously overpowered just to justify the use of a turn.

I honestly don't see a point in guarding except in an ABS. It just wastes a turn and it hardly makes a difference one way or another. I would much prefer to use an End Turn command that restores AP over something like guard. 



You're not playing/creating interesting enough battle systems, then!  It's very true that there's little point in Guarding in many battle systems (although I'd argue the Healer often has a good reason to Guard in many poorly-designed systems).  But the better ones either remove the command entirely (rare), or find ways to make it useful.  Persona 3/4, IIRC, used it to prevent being knocked down in addition to reducing damage - this was critical if you had characters with weaknesses to a specific enemy's attacks because not being knocked down would prevent the dreaded "1 more" attacks that could eventually lead to Total Party Wipes.


In my own game I raised the damage reduction on Guard to 60% and I made a category of equipment (Shield) that give bonuses when Guarding (e.g. "Every time you guard, restore 20 TP" or "When guarding, you also reduce damage to your allies"), but the biggest reason to make use of the Guard command is that bosses will telegraph some of their most powerful attacks.  A boss might "Charge Up" for a turn instead of attacking, giving it the ability to use something really powerful next turn (making Guard a decent option for all characters that turn), or it might "Mark" a character for a few turns, meaning that it is much more likely to target that character (making Guard a decent option for that character while Marked).

In a previous game of mine I, too, had counter attack and it restored a small amount of HP as well as the usual reduction of damage.  Feedback from players included the point that at the end of a battle, when they were confident of finishing off the enemy with one or two allies, the others could get a small amount of healing, so helping with resource management.  They found it useful to do this as it gave a small, but helpful, strategic use for the choice.



This sounds like a good mechanic in general, but whenever I have actions that offer "free" restoration like this, I always worry about whether players will try to abuse this by killing all but one enemy and then just spending several turns using the restoration move.  The worry stems not so much from the actual abuse of the system, but from the fact that it means experiencing the low point of the combat interest curve for an extra minute or two (the battle is essentially over) just to make the technically-correct move.


Did you have any way to prevent players from just sitting there near the end of battle and spamming Guard/Counter until the party's health is topped off?
 

Kes

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In an early iteration I tried several variations.  One was sealing the skill for 2 turns, but continuing to give a small DEF buff, with no regeneration, for those turns.  That eliminated the spamming, because I couldn't imagine just anyone sitting around for 2 turns during which they couldn't guard.  I personally liked it, but got quite strong negative feedback from a tester who complained that in a long battle there could be legitimate reasons for needing to guard more frequently than that e.g. following a miscalculated choice of actions and needing time for a actor to defend a bit while someone did some healing.  So I dropped that idea


If someone wants to bore themselves rigid for a couple of turns in order to get some free healing done, I suppose I have to say "let them."
 

Feliaria

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Well, yeah- like I said, in my game my Guard function raises CNT by 100%, but it also has a chance to double the character's stats for one turn, as well. This chance starts at 10% and ends at 20% (Though one of my characters has a little higher chance than the others, I think it's a 25%, but I can't get to my game right now to double check).


EDIT: The guard character has a 10-40% chance to proc the doubled stats and a 0-10% to proc a low-damaging attack when they guard, depending on where the player is in the game.
 
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Wavelength

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If someone wants to bore themselves rigid for a couple of turns in order to get some free healing done, I suppose I have to say "let them."



I actually do this in games, as a player, if I figure out an abusable loop and I'm facing any significant danger in battles in the area.  But I don't enjoy it!


Of course, it's difficult and often clumsy to try to solve such an abusable loop.  Probably my favorite solution I've heard was a designer who would have enemies run away from the battle if, over several turns, neither the players' nor enemies' HP was dropping and the player used skills marked as "abusable" (such as heals).
 

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Hey guys,


I need some feedback on a battle system I'm trying to create in RMMV. To explain it quickly, It's an Action Point battle system where each battler takes as many turns as they can before the party's turn ends. Action Points are automatically replenished at the end of each turn, and you can also carry over Action Points to the next turn.


I've seen this executed in several RPGs before, and one thing I'm noticing about the ones I've seen is that there isn't a "guard/defend" command. Which is totally understandable due to the mechanics of the battle system.


Typically, guarding is something you do to minimize damage, and you use up your entire turn to do it. However, Guarding in this kind of battle system would change the way Action Points are consumed, as it wouldn't make sense to guard while you're attacking. 


So my first question is... Any ideas?


I have one, but I'm leery of how it'll effect balancing. My original plan is to have a Guard command that consumes all remaining Action Points. The amount of Action Points remaining at the time of choosing the Guard command will determine how effective the Guard will be. For example, using 1 AP to guard will reduce less damage than a guard that used 3 AP.


This leads me to my second question, what are your thoughts on this particular mechanic?


Thanks for your help!



Hi Neo,


I use a similar AP system that I jimmy rigged out of using the TP system.


I'll give you a brief idea of how I implemented this "system" into my fave/current project, and if you'd like to discuss here (or in PM, that's fine too :) ), just ask.


-AP (Action Points) are used to take any PHYS Action in battle.


-Depending on the Action itself, that's how many AP are consumed.


-EX: "Fight" costs 1 AP. "Steal" costs 2 AP. "Mega-Slash" Costs 5 AP.


-Each Character Starts with a Max AP of 5 AP. Increase/Decrease with special Equipment/states/events/etc.


-When Max AP is reached, a special state is added to that actor to unleash a "Mini-Limit" attack specific to that Actor at the beginning of the next turn, which reduces their AP to 0, but doesn't cost them a turn.


-Magic Spells cost MP and do not cost AP. Physical Skills cost AP. No Skills will consume AP & MP.


-Guarding (Passive) does not cost AP, gains 2 AP, and Actor will take 1/2 damage that turn.


-When AP is max, "Guard" becomes "Block" (which the Actor will take 1/4th the dmg instead, and gain no AP).


-Some enemies have the ability to deplete AP through their skills.


-Items Use does not cost AP, but always happens last in battle (even after skills that "act last").


-There are some PHYS Actions that do not cost AP, because they are passive. An EX would be something like "Focus" to increase accuracy. Because it's not an Active Action, it costs no AP.


I will say it is a fun system to work with, but a challenge to keep it fair, balanced, and simplified as to not over complicate for the player. I draw inspiration for this system from Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light, Legend of Legacy, and Bravely Default.


I hope you find this helpful!! :)


-Mia
 

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Hate to feel like I'm late to the discussion but I think everyone is misunderstanding what exactly the battle system is. A good example of the battle system is from a game called: Valkyria Chronicles. I'll make up a scenario based on the details provided by @Neo Soul Gamer :


Battle starts:


Action Points = 3


Party Members = Player A, Player B, and Player C.


Possible Combinations 1:


- Player Turn Begins


Player A takes 1 turn


Player B takes 1 turn


Player C takes 1 turn


- Player Turn Ends


- Enemy Turn Begins


Possible Combination 2:


- Player Turn Begins


Player A takes 2 turns


Player B takes 1 turn


- Player Turn Ends


- Enemy Turn Begins


Possible Combination 3:


- Player Turn Begins


Player C takes 3 turns


- Player Turn Ends


- Enemy Turn Begins


Possible Combination 4:


- Player Turn Begins


Player A takes 1 turn


- Player Turn Ends (2 AP is added to next turn)


- Enemy Turn Begins


To answer @Neo Soul Gamer's question, you could make guard act as a defense boosting buff with unlimited duration for the character that choose to guard. It will ultimately use 1 of the party's total AP but in return that character will take less damage. Giving the guarding character an action will remove the guard buff. Why would guard at all you ask? An enemy can charge up an attack that will hit all targets and will one shot mages but not warriors, as a result, mages must guard when said attack is being charged up; this was the one of the original reason why guard was added into JRPGs in the first place.


Personally, I dislike these Player Turn / Enemy Turn mechanics because each character's individual agility/speed stat is nearly worthless making you wonder why you even have them at all.
 
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Neo Soul Gamer

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Hate to feel like I'm late to the discussion but I think everyone is misunderstanding what exactly the battle system is. A good example of the battle system is from a game called: Valkyria Chronicles. I'll make up a scenario based on the details provided by @Neo Soul Gamer :


Battle starts:


Action Points = 3


Party Members = Player A, Player B, and Player C.


Possible Combinations 1:


- Player Turn Begins


Player A takes 1 turn


Player B takes 1 turn


Player C takes 1 turn


- Player Turn Ends


- Enemy Turn Begins


Possible Combination 2:


- Player Turn Begins


Player A takes 2 turns


Player B takes 1 turn


- Player Turn Ends


- Enemy Turn Begins


Possible Combination 3:


- Player Turn Begins


Player C takes 3 turns


- Player Turn Ends


- Enemy Turn Begins


Possible Combination 4:


- Player Turn Begins


Player A takes 1 turn


- Player Turn Ends (2 AP is added to next turn)


- Enemy Turn Begins


To answer @Neo Soul Gamer's question, you could make guard act as a defense boosting buff with unlimited duration for the character that choose to guard. It will ultimately use 1 of the party's total AP but in return that character will take less damage. Giving the guarding character an action will remove the guard buff. Why would guard at all you ask? An enemy can charge up an attack that will hit all targets and will one shot mages but not warriors, as a result, mages must guard when said attack is being charged up; this was the one of the original reason why guard was added into JRPGs in the first place.


Personally, I dislike these Player Turn / Enemy Turn mechanics because each character's individual agility/speed stat is nearly worthless making you wonder why you even have them at all.


That's exactly it. Thanks for taking the time to explain it. Much appreciated :D  

I can totally understand why people wouldn't like the battle system. We all have our preferences. However, saying that it makes agility a worthless stat is kinda like saying "I hate visual novels because there's no battle system". Visual Novels aren't supposed to have battle systems, just like this turn based battle system isn't supposed to have agility. There are other mechanics that still make it deep and strategic. 


As for guarding, I'm leaning more towards Pine Tower's suggestion with unique commands for each character. Sorta like FFVI, only more defensive.


Thanks guys!
 

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@Neo Soul Gamer Please do not quote an entire post to indicate who you are replying to; it makes scrolling down a thread very slow.  The convention @username (which I used in this post) is sufficient to make it clear.
 

Neo Soul Gamer

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@ksjp17 Makes sense. But what purpose does quoting even serve if the mods are pushing us to use the "@" method? Shouldn't you guys just get rid of it?
 

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No, because you might want to refer to a specific part of someone's post, or you might want to quote something from another thread which you think is relevant.  There are many legitimate reasons for quoting something - just not an entire post merely to indicate who you are replying to.
 

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