How can I make that the healer class is not required?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Danitinkis, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Danitinkis

    Danitinkis Deadly and sexy Veteran

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    In my game, there are 3 members in the party. There is a job system to change the actor classes. But I don't want the healer class to be practically requiered for the game, like in FF3. In that game, if you didn't have some kind of healer (White/Red mage, Sage) you just couldn't go ahead in the story (I completed it like 5 times, so I know that). However, I dont want to make the game easy, because without healer requiered, I would have to lower enemy ATK. Do you have any ideas with this?
     
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  2. Vox Novus

    Vox Novus Knight of Whispers Veteran

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    I assume you mean just a healer class and not healing in general, you can always have items that heal and the player can run tanky class builds to sustain itself health wise or maybe they run highly evasive classes.

    Some classes might even have passives or skills that recover their own hp (or provide protection from harmful states) so if they are more careful in how they use their skills or avoid/endure damage they might be able to recover their own health or apply preventative measures, you see thieves for example often have a skill that steals (drains) health.
     
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  3. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I heard @Tai_MT 's design has no dedicated healer class. So maybe you can learn one or two from him.

    Btw, you can go into a full recovery mechanic every battle, so you don't have to worry about lowering attack. You should do the opposite in fact, make every encounter dangerous.
     
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  4. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    that is simply a question of balancing and can have dozens of different solutions depending on what you want.

    Basically your party HP determines how long they can stay in battle. If you need a healer to prolong that time, then either the enemies are too strong or the actors too weak to handle the enemy with that limited capacity.

    other possible solutions arw to give the actors more HP, to increase their damage, to decrease the enemy damage or others.
     
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  5. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I like to design my systems in such a way no dedicated healer is ever a necessity, and all it really requires is options for the other classes to heal/protect themselves, or be able to provide support in some way or another (damage reduction, taunt abilities, disrupting enemies, health regeneration). Of course, you can always go the items route as well...
     
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  6. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    I agree with the tank and items option, but you might not want that either. So first choice, you could give these characters healing skills, so there is no "main" healer but each actor, or some of them, can still heal.

    If you don't want healing skills at all, then second choices are. 1. Create a tank class. In-case you don't know what that is, basically a actor with higher HP and defence than the others that can take same of the damage the other actors would otherwise take. Usually a skill called "provoke" or "taunt" is what the generic term is to call it. 2. Use healing items instead. Make it a bit easier to get them, and warn players they'll need those, so players stock up on them and you can use the items to heal the actors. You can also mix 1 & 2 together.

    A boost skill (buff) might also work. Like a skill that raises the entire party def by 50%.

    If you don't want item healing or tanks or boosts either, the third option is to reduce the damage actors take by a certain amount depending how much HP the actors have both individually and together as a party against the enemies/troop. You may find it's actually better to leave the damage the same and increase the actor's HP, or both.

    Of course you can use the second option and mix in the third as well. Or perhaps all three. It's really up to you how this plays out.

    You sort of have to look at everything together, everything you're planning to do and not do, and make it balance out and then you're ok.
     
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  7. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Okay, I'm here because @TheoAllen tagged me. I figured it would be courteous to add my input since it was kind of requested. Ha ha. :D

    First thing you have to remember is this: If you have a Healer class at all. Anywhere in your game. Your players are going to use it, whether it's required or not. Players tend to gravitate towards "The Trinity" in class video games. DPS Character/Class, Healer, Tank. Why? Because this is the most efficient way to play pretty much every RPG ever created. This is because video game players typically look for the most efficient way to play any game they're interacting with. Nature of the beast. So, whether your Healer is required at all to beat the game... It doesn't matter. If it's an option, pretty much all of your players are going to be using it.

    Second thing you have to remember is... Unless you specifically design your game so that it isn't... Having a way to heal with MP instead of items is "Easy Mode". Healing in this fashion is always far more efficient, less costly, and lasts longer. Consider that you could buy a Potion that heals 120 HP, hits a single target, and costs 100 Gold. Then, consider that you could use "Cura" to heal 90 HP, probably to all members of the party, costs about 12 MP in a pool of 250 total MP, and an MP Restorative to heal 120 MP costs 200 Gold. Even at double the cost to replenish that MP, the Magic Healing (Dedicated Healer) is far more efficient and useful and is only limited by their MP Pool, which they need only restore once or twice a dungeon... whereas without it, you'd have to bring along roughly 10 times as many Potions for the same effect (or more!). It's easy to see why players always bring along a Dedicated Healer in their parties when you know that kind of information. Unless you make Magic Healing so restrictive that players don't want to use it... It's going to be the preferred method and class for your entire game, necessary or not.

    With that in mind, you've got a few options.

    1. Remove MP Restoring Consumables. If you do this, the "Dedicated Healer" could only restore MP at say... an Inn. Or... A Save Point. Honestly, I'd make each save point have a number of "Charges" to restore MP before it runs out, but I leave the decision on how you'd handle that up to you. If you do this, players won't spam the "Dedicated Healer" class and will use it more strategically. They may swap someone into the class in order to do some healing and then swap them back out, if they're low on HP Restoring Consumables. Or, they may swap them in before each Boss Fight to make the fight go more smoothly. They may also make the decision that not every issue requires expending their MP and so they might bring more Items along to heal up. Doing this also allows you to create a bit more dynamic encounters that may require players actually not be Dedicated Healers to even win the fight.
    2. Create strategic combat. Think up situations in which maybe having a Healer along means a fight is harder to accomplish. This will ensure players will rotate the Healer in and out of combat as necessary to a particular location or situation.
    3. Remove "Nukes" from gameplay and lots of Status Ailments. Traditionally, these are why a Dedicated Healer is in the party. To heal up after an enemy drops a major amount of damage on the party all in one turn. Or, to get rid of status effects like Poison, which can hurt you pretty badly. Remove the reasons you'd need a Dedicated Healer and even though your players will still use it most of the time, it won't be "Necessary" to beating the game at all.
    4. Remove the Dedicated Healer Class in the game entirely and focus combat around using "Consumables". This will, however, require you give players enough money to buy these consumables, or make them as useful as Magical Healing would be. It would also require you make the Consumables "multi target" or make most of the Skills in the game (including those that monsters use), single target only to mitigate damage.
    5. Create skills that help mitigate damage. A "Shield" spell would help with this, where it nullifies 50% damage for a turn or two or three. Skills to mitigate damage would be incredibly useful in making sure a "Dedicated Healer" isn't "required" to beat the game.
    6. Remove "hits multiple targets" type skills from the Enemies. This will go a long way towards ensuring you don't require a Healer Class to win the game.

    Honestly, there's a lot of things you can do to make sure a Healer isn't "Required". If you just copy any existing RPG on the market right now except a "Rogue Like", you'll have your answer on how to do it. Even games as far back as Chrono Trigger and Earthbound show you how this can be done (games I rarely ever even NEEDED to heal in).

    Just remember that just because a Healer isn't necessary to beat a game, doesn't mean players won't have it be a permanent part of their team anyway. And, they will. Necessary or not. Because it's the most efficient way to play every RPG to date.
     
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  8. Frogboy

    Frogboy I'm not weak to fire Veteran

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    The problem is one of marginal utility. Every class fills a purpose. At a base sense, choosing a character breaks down to inflicting damage, defense, healing and utility. The optimal party is going to be the classes that are most focused to each of these roles: Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard or their equivalent. Anything else will probably make the game harder unless one of these roles is just not very useful (usually utility) and in that case, you can double up on one of the others. You'll notice that not many players will actually choose a second dedicated Healer. The marginal utility for the first one is usually higher than any other class for the first one and lower than any other class for the second one.

    The only ways to break this is to make a dedicated Healer worse, usually by nerfing healing or spreading it around to a lot of other classes. I'm kind of hoping to go the other way: create more vital roles than party members and making the player choose which to give up.
     
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  9. Wavelength

    Wavelength The Indictables Veteran

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    If you study the design behind most menu-based JRPG combat systems, you'll find that their battles - particularly their boss battles - are designed around the absolute need for a healer (even if it's not a dedicated healer). Bosses lay enough damage onto your party, and have a massive enough HP total, that unless you heal that damage up in the interim, you are never going to be able to kill the boss before it kills you. Your healers might do other things during easy random encounters, but during any challenging battle they are going to be committed to keeping your party out of lethal range. And any "challenge" comes from avoiding running out of resources, not forgetting to heal, and being lucky enough to avoid Crits that are so powerful they simply one-shot your party members. This pattern is not fun. Some other combat mechanics can make JRPG combat fun in general, but this pattern prevents it from being as fun as it could be.

    So, you want to design menu-based RPG combat where a healer isn't necessary. Good. This basically requires you to ditch any design where the player can't beat a boss without the healer. The most common way to do that is a "Race to the Bottom" sort of combat design, where it will take the player many turns to reduce the boss to 0 HP, and it will take the boss many turns (rather than two shots) to reduce the party to 0 HP. The boss is no longer a big bag of stats, but rather a more challenging enemy that does the same kinds of things you do. The challenge now is in using your skills and other tools efficiently so that you can deal enough damage (or prevent the boss from dealing enough damage) to "cross the finish line first". A chain of three or four skills that feed off of each other well is now greatly rewarded, because it brings you closer to your goal, whereas in the 'Big Hits and Mandatory Healers" approach to JRPG combat, creative use of these skills will merely speed things up by a few seconds. Now, this works great for boss battles and other encounters that are meant to be challenges on their own, but the standard "random encounters" become a bit of an issue. You generally don't want these battles to plod on for several turns, and if they're depleting a lot of your HP then the player might not survive three or four encounters in a row. I'd recommend giving these enemies low HP totals (but a reasonably high attack potential), and making healing outside of combat easy using items, etc. (or even automatically heal the party to full after combat). Overall, I think that a Race to the Bottom approach is the best way to go about solving the mandatory healer problem.

    One other way you could go about a no-healer-required JRPG design is to make it feasible to finish off enemies without taking a single hit, using smart and situational tactics. This is much easier to do in Action RPGs and the like (because the player can physically dodge hits); it's harder to do in menu-based combat. Persona does a really nice job of presenting this kind of system in regular combat with its Weakpoint Knockdowns (and Persona 5's "Hold Up" system in particular), though boss battles often revert to a more heal-centric approach. You could also create a system where it's possible to stun-lock enemies, though you have to figure out a way to make the player accomplish this in different ways for each enemy, because otherwise combat devolves into repeating the same boring pattern. Overall, this is another way to handle non-heal-centric combat, but it's not something I'd recommend to a first-timer because it requires very precise design.

    Now that we've got a core combat design where you don't need a healer, what do we do if we want to make a character who's mostly a healer? The healer needs to be a viable, useful, and potentially powerful member of your party, but she shouldn't be obligatory. The key is in not overpowering the heals. If a heal is restoring half of a party member's Max HP and it doesn't require a gigantic sacrifice to use, then it's going to be (highly) overpowered in a Race to the Bottom system. In general, you want the Heal to restore about as much health as a tough non-boss enemy can lay on in a single hit. You never want the healer to be able to outheal the amount of damage that a boss enemy lays on, in the long term. It can feel weak or even futile to players who are used to gigantic heals when the healer is healing 56 HP out of 400 Max HP on a character, so to make the healer class more exciting, you might make the heals larger, but make them more expensive, difficult, or risky to use. For example, the healer might only have enough MP to use three heals during combat, or they might need to attack enemies a certain number of times in order to activate their heal (which could be done using TP Gains and Costs, or several other mechanics). This is fun because it lets the healer be aggressive, and even forces them to be aggressive sometimes. Or, the healer might only be able to heal their allies, and have very few ways to protect themselves, transforming combat into a game of "protect the healer" when they're in play. That last one can be a bit hard to get right without something like an Aggro system, but when done right it's pretty cool. In any of these cases, it's important to recognize that the combat system and balance are designed around not having the healer class in your party - and then the healer class is introduced in a way that it's just another way of getting to your goal, with tradeoffs between strengths and weaknesses.

    As you can see from the wall of text above that only scratches the surface of combat redesign, it's a pretty big task moving away from the healer-centric JRPG combat design, because it requires rethinking an entire system that we are so used to accepting. But I feel that the actual combat experience gains a lot of intrigue and excitement from doing so.

    [[ Finally, while I wholeheartedly recommend going all the way and designing combat to not require a healer, there is a middle ground you can take if that feels like too big of a design task. You could design battles in a more classic JRPG "Big Hits and Mandatory Healers" structure, but reward the player with bonuses (especially unique ones) for finishing battles quickly. This rewards players who play aggressively and intelligently (or grind a lot to work up their stats, or both), and it will encourage players to challenge themselves by leaving the healer on the bench if they're ahead of the curve, since damage will help you finish battles quickly while healing will make the win more reliable but not quicker. ]]
     
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  10. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    There's only one answer, and everyone's said it in different ways: balance accordingly.

    Ask yourself: why would it the healer class be "required" ? Is it because that class makes the game easier? Ok, then nerf it - raise the mp costs, lower the healing values. Conversely, you can buff the other classes - add a little bit more power to their skills so that there's a greater incentive and utility to using them. Keep doing this until you reach a relative "equilibrium", i.e. using the healer class is a VIABLE PREFERENCE, not an optimal requirement.
     
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  11. consolcwby

    consolcwby (2015: afk...) 2018: BAK! :P Veteran

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    Well, I would use a "combat medic" style class then. What I mean is a class which buffs/debuffs during combat but heals outside combat. Also can fight but is weak at it. At higher levels, they could take several turns to cure a knockout condition. In other words, think support - not healing.
     
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  12. Henryetha

    Henryetha Veteran Veteran

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    You can simply give every party member a different heal skill (and maybe slightly weaker than a healer class would be).
    Another option could be the use of items simply.

    Or you recover the complete party after each battle and balance everything, so the party CAN be able to beat them in the given frame.
     
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  13. Latefallen

    Latefallen 90% of the time, my code works 100% of the time Veteran

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    Offering party members heal skills is a good way to achieve this. Failing this you could make health restoring items super easy to obtain.

    My personal favourite way is to have raw ingredients that they player can gather and then have a cooking mechanic, with food restoring health. But it requires a lot of planning and gearing towards a crafting/cooking system.
     
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  14. Danitinkis

    Danitinkis Deadly and sexy Veteran

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    Wow guys and girls, thank you for your help! I nerfed a bit the main healer and buffed the items, and also removed the basic MP recovering item, that wasn't really needed. I also lowered the encounters, so the party doesn't get bullied and buffed a little bit the enemies.
     
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  15. kovak

    kovak Bloodmancer Veteran

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    I wanna go with the same path and my solution for such issue was to give means to reduce damage taken since there's no dedicated healer class, many skills raises Barrier points or raises MaxHP for a few turns.
    With Barrier points idea It acts as a 2nd HP bar, resets when battle ends, regenerates during combat and it can't block the entire damage. No matter how much Barrier you have, if your HP is too low you're dead and you can't store Barrier points since it gonna reset when battle ends.

    I'd also consider the Healing Surge mechanic from DnD 4E, it works as self-healing. It can be used during combat or out of combat to restore HP and has limited use. It's a way to not run out of consumables and avoid the dedicated healer pick. Some skills in DnD 4E even allow the use of Healing Surges, the dedicated healers skills may allow others to cast their Healing Surges during the Healer's turn or even to cast their own Healing Surge on another target as well.

    Limited Use is something that can't be overlooked as well. Limiting how many healing skills a dedicated healer can use will force players to manage when they heal and why. Having several types of healing skills on this scenario and different types of healers is also a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  16. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    An interesting design choice made by BioWare when they made Dragon Age Inquisition is that there is no healing magic.

    Instead, mages can learn the Barrier spell which essentially applies extra HP to the party. Once a Barrier is raised, the Mage can resume casting other spells.

    It might not be that different in principle, but I feel like the Barrier spell improves the utility of the Mage in that game.
     
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  17. kovak

    kovak Bloodmancer Veteran

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    Another thought occured to me: You need backup systems for this idea of "healers are not required". There's no point on designing it if there's no means to stop your enemies from bashing you to death. With it in mind lets take a look at what could be added to this concept.
    • Stagg System - dealing massive amount of damage would stun the enemy for a few turns and make him more vulnerable to damage. There may be cases where a enemy will be stunned several times during combat because of it. So there's a threshold here based on X% of the enemy's MaxHP and if it can't be archieved there's a threshould of how much damage can be stored till it happens if the X% MaxHP threshould condition is not met. It's a thing that can be applied even for bosses
    • Enrage System - dealing massive amounts of damage makes them stronger for a few turns, they get stunned afterward for a few turns as well. Same idea as the above, but the difference here is that the quicker you wanna eliminate an enemy the stronger he may become before it dies. Do not go for it if you can't mitigate damage properly, only villains does that.
    • Healing items also regenerate - Healing also applies regeneration buff for a few turns. Safe approach, It's a way to make them more useful and also forces you to use them less often during combat. You can come up with MP potions, Barrier potions and even Buff Potions that regenerates HP.
    • Many Buffs regenerates HP - Most of times we don't thing that buffs that raises Evasion or even Critical Rate should do it but why not? If you give means to even those kinds of buffs to regenerate HP it may save your ass. Just remember to create a rule for it like If it has a second effect there's no reason to regenerate HP.
     
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  18. SwiftSign

    SwiftSign Veteran Veteran

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    If the number of encounters is the problem, why not just auto-heal the party after each battle? Then you can ensure each encounter is a challenge without enforcing they heal up after each one nor is it a battle of attrition.
     
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  19. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Honestly, in class-change-based games, the only way around having some sort of healer be mandatory is to omit healer-centric classes entirely, then balance around that. If you make having a dedicated healer optional, balance around the player potentially not having one, but then add a few healer classes anyway, then the game will probably be too easy if they do decide to take a dedicated healer along.

    I guess the closest option is to have several of the other classes have some sort of off-heal-capability, even if it's only self-only regeneration. It's either that or chug potions like a drunkard.
     
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  20. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    Just give your characters a lot more HP and remove in battle healing. Enough extra HP that they can take as many hits as they would even with a healer. Adjust other design (like items most likely) accordingly, season to taste.
     
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