How do you handle Poison/Burn/Bleed states when applying them to both enemies and bosses?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by atoms, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    I'm just curious what other people do, since if we go by the basic formula in MV, I think it is Posion is -10% HP per Turn, and I find that's waaay too much on bosses for the same Posion skill that you use on the enemies.

    What I'm testing out lately is have four levels for each state. For example Poison A, Poison B, Poison C, and finally, Poison D.

    The skill is still the same Poison skill, but an enemy might take a Poison A (-13% HP) State from it while a boss might take a Poison C (-4% HP) State from it.

    What do you try to do to keep things balanced?
     
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  2. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I always had like a -5% HP on each condition, so individually, they're not that impressive, but once stacked, it can do quite a bit of damage. I guess for bosses, giving them healing abilities helps a lot to keep them alive from being overwhelmed by percentage damage too quickly. Or giving them moments of invulnerability, like during certain phases, so conditions can't be applied non-stop during a boss fight. Works out quite well for the game I've made, making them feel powerful enough to make a significant difference, but not so strong that they negate other forms of damage.
     
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  3. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I only have burnt as DoT damage for enemies, no poison or bleed for narrative reasons (+I don't have to think about how to make them different). The way how I handle it is using formula instead of a percentage. So everything remains consistent. I don't really remember the exact number, but it's probably around 40% of the normal attack damage per turn (if the normal attack deals 100 damage, the DoT damage will be 40 per turn). Both applied to bosses and normal enemies.
     
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  4. JamesRyan

    JamesRyan Game Designer Veteran

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    I always try to avoid designing DOT based on target's max HP, and always have a way to cure those states. In my game, I have Poison/Burn/Bleed as DOT. Except for Poison which can only be removed by using an item called Antidote, Burn and Bleed can be removed by other effects, like taking Water or Ice damage cures Burn, and receiving healing effects cures Bleed.
     
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  5. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    And yet you haven't mentioned on how you handle these if it wasn't using max hp. Only mentioned on how you removed it.
     
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  6. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    and there's your problem.

    one of the first things I changed from the default, was making the regeneration/drains fixed values instead of percentages.
    otherwise, it doesn't matter which one you use, either the strong one or the weak one, it'll always affect the enemy in X number of turns, regardless of the enemy's HP.
     
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  7. Doktor_Q

    Doktor_Q I'm not a real doktor, but I am a real Q Veteran

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    I tend to prefer flat damage over percentage, probably based on the caster's stats or level. If I do use percentage damage for some reason, I tend to give bosses partial resistance to DoTs, so maybe they lose 4% per turn instead of 20%.

    Fundamentally, DoTs have two components:
    1. Total damage (a flat value or % hp, depending on your damage formula)
    2. Duration (turns it takes to deal the total damage)
    The balance being that the longer it takes to deal your total damage, the higher you can justify making it. Obviously, if the total damage is too low, the poison isn't very useful, and the longer the poison takes to deal that total damage, the harder it is to use in random encounters, since individual enemies don't last long enough for the damage to be meaningful.

    The wrong way to go about this is just making all your bosses immune to poison.
     
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  8. D.L. Yomegami

    D.L. Yomegami Sanely Insane Veteran

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    My damage-over-time state does 5% maximum HP damage per turn. Disregarding any other sources of damage it'd take 20 turns to kill anything, in a game where only the final boss should actually take that long. Rather than being an enemy killer in its own right it's more meant to be a supplement to the player's DPS skills. I've also made sure that it's only inflicted by damaging skills in the first place, so that the player might have a reason to use those skills should the encounter not warrant the poison. I'm also playing around with the idea of the DOT having a secondary effect, perhaps lowering defense slightly or lowering the amount of healing the affected battler receives, again to give the player another reason to want to inflict it.

    Only one boss in the game is outright immune to it (and all other negative states), and it's justified through that boss's lore. That being said, other enemies might resist it, and some enemies might just cure it or do nasty things to the player if they're inflicted.

    While I'm generally trying to make all my skills useful in most, if not all, situations, I'm not entirely sure if a damage-over-time state (or any state at all, really) absolutely needs to be useful in all fights. Like, there's a fair few basic enemies in my game whose main purpose is just to show what to expect from the other enemies in their dungeon; unless the player feels like experimenting on them there's really no point to using any state on such enemies.
     
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  9. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    For a game I'm working on now, I use Utility Scaling along with Absolute Amounts for damage-over-time states, and together these concepts avert all of the issues that normally come with trying to balance these between regular encounters and boss combat.

    Specifically, I have each instance of a state hold (as a property of the state's instance) the Power of the spell which applied that state (the Power uses the same formula that Damage calculations use - so the caster's Attack, the target's Defense, and the Potency of the spell chosen - for example Burn II would be more potent than Burn I - all factor into it). When the DoT state will deal damage, it deals an amount based on the Power it's holding. For example, Burning might deal 0.12 times its Power, and Poison might deal 0.05 times its Power. (If multiple instances of the same state exist on a battler at once, only the strongest one will deal damage each tick.) If the Power of a Burning state applied to a boss is 300, the Burning will deal 36 damage each tick, regardless of the Boss' HP.

    This works out really nice because pretty much any balance considerations you make for Damage calculations can work double duty for States. Anything that's fair game for one should be fair game for the other. You don't need to come up with a whole new set of (sometimes contradictory) rules to try and balance them. I can use a Burn against a regular enemy and it might deal 60 damage per turn which is pretty useful considering its low HP. I can use a Burn against a boss enemy and it might deal 40 damage per turn (due to its higher Defense), which is still pretty useful considering that it will tick a lot of times in a long boss fight.

    Additionally, I use similar calculations for states which don't have any need for a Power rating (such as Stuns), in order to determine their Length. This even allows status effects like Stuns to be used at 100% reliability against bosses, as long as I am really careful about balancing them (for example, Stun skills with a high Potency need to have a very high MP cost or a cooldown).
     
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  10. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I used a script to change it so that the poison damage was based on the MAT of the one who inflicted it. Though the same script will let you base it on any parameter, so you could use LUK or ATK if you wish instead.
     
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  11. Hero_Claive

    Hero_Claive (Phoenix Ember) Veteran

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    I do the same thing as @bgillisp. It's a formula commonly used in RPGs where debuffs are a legit strategy that works on most if not all enemies (including bosses). It also prevents the aforementioned issues of %-based DoT which renders boss battles pretty un-boss-like.

    Limiting the turns the status is also really important. I keep mine around 3, for example, so if you want to strategize based around debuffs, you have to be consistent with it.
     
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  12. Kupotepo

    Kupotepo Fantasy realist Veteran

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    I leave poison as the default setting for now. Bleed state,for me, is a condition if affected enemy attack a character; it will get damage -10% of hp.
    Burn state gets temporary debeff -10% defend status.

    The chance of getting those states are important deciding factor of how much strong impact of states can be.

    Many people here probably have a formula, so every it perdicable and orderly. I didn't do the balance yet, but any people sure have spreadsheets with calculation per turn and how long the battle will last.( Thrown people under the bus.):guffaw:

    Sorry, I don't have the picture what is it look like yet.
     
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  13. JamesRyan

    JamesRyan Game Designer Veteran

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    It varies. User's stats, target's stats but not max HP, stack-based, instance-based, number of Ailment/Positive states affected, skill levels or even fixed value. I also limit the maximum damage of a DOT if it is too OP (like max HP based DOT).

    I have a DOT state which base damage is based on user's stat (ATK or MAT), then the bonus DOT damage keeps raising every time the target receives physical or magical damage (10% of damage taken), and limit it to a fixed value, or a fixed stack (like maximum of 5 damage taken instances).
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  14. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Like some others, I prefer to have my dots based on damage formulas rather than being fixed, percent-based damage. I greatly prefer this approach for the following reasons:
    1. It lets me make the dots effective vs common enemies without them absolutely destroying bosses.
    2. It enables me to have different types of dots behave differently. For example, I have Bleed, Burning, and Poison. Bleed can be reduced by defense, burn can be reduced by magic defense, and poison ignores any defense.
    3. Since I can also assign them damage types this way, players can gear up with heavy fire resist to cope with Burning or Poison (element) resist to reduce poison damage. Likewise, anything that mitigates physical damage will tone down Bleed.
    4. The player can feel a sense of growth by, say boosting Burning damage to foes by upping their magic stat, bleed damage by upping attack, or poison by increasing both.
    That said, I might have a percent-based/gravity dot, but it'll likely either be only available to enemies, or if players can use it, bosses will suffer damage from a fallback formula rather than percent-based damage. The latter is how I handled the standard percent-of-HP gravity spell in my game as well.
     
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  15. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    First of all, let me say I like your post a lot; it's a great explanation of some of the design benefits that damage-formula-esque DoT formulas offer.

    As far as your "Gravity"-style DoT, you could use the same percentage-based formula but have a hard-cap on how much damage it can deal (equal to your fallback formula, which would be based on whatever stats cause your standard Poison-like DoTs to become more powerful), or you could even get fancy with a Diminishing Returns kind of formula.

    I worked out a two-part Diminishing Returns formula for my own game that I feel works really well. For both parts, N is the Raw (input) Amount, X is the Threshold (above which Diminishing Returns kick in), and Y is the Max:
    • If N < X: f(N) = N
    • If N > X: f(N) = X + ((Y - X) * (N - X) / ((N - X) + (Y - X)))
    The first part just means that if you're below the Threshold, the result is whatever you passed in. The second part is mathematically complex, but it creates a beautifully smooth curve where as you pass the Threshold your returns start to taper off very slightly, and as your Raw Amount reaches super-high amounts, you get closer and closer to the Max without actually reaching it. For example, if X is 50 and Y is 100, an input (N) of 20 will still result in 20, N of 50 will result in 50, N of 60 will result in 58.3, N of 70 results in 64.3, N of 100 results in 75, N of 1000 results in 97.5, and N of 100000 results in 99.975. You can, of course, calculate your Fallback Formula and set that as Y. What I love about the diminishing returns paradigm is that it lets me keep mechanics consistent in all situations (e.g. "higher boss HP = higher damage" for Gravity), while avoiding great imbalances (e.g. Gravity three-shotting the Final Boss).

    As one other nifty design sidenote, one state that I made is a buff called Tempest Winds that deals bonus damage equal to a large percentage of the target's Max HP. For exactly the same reasons as a Gravity/Demi-like spell, this would be overpowered against Bosses and foes that are way above your level, so I limited the bonus damage on each hit based on the damage that hit was originally doing. I subject the Tempest Winds bonus to diminishing returns above 100% of your attack/spell's original damage, with a max of 200% of the original damage. :)

    Sorry for sorta hijacking that into "what I did", but I thought it could be a cool option for you to consider in terms of getting the best of both worlds with your Gravity DoTs.
     
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  16. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    This is my opinion:

    Regardless of the actual damage, DoT should have very strict turn counts. Three at the most. Continuous DoT for indefinite turns is either overpowered and incredibly dangerous (if DoT is high) or underpowered and annoying (if DoT is low), and very rarely "just right."
     
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  17. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I tackle it pretty contrary to how everyone else seems to want to do it. I have the same "four levels" of Poison you do. Burn as well. I simply design around the "overpowered" nature of such things. Or, plan for players to actually be able to kill a boss like that. Because... what is the sense in ANY state if it can't be applied to a boss?

    After all, random mooks die too quickly for a state to be useful on them... and bosses are the only thing you'd ever want to use a state on... but if they're too weak, you won't use them on a boss anyway as it's a waste of an action in combat.

    For that reason, my states are powerful against bosses. Though, most bosses have "immunity" to most states. There's roughly 2 or 3 states they're not immune to (I have a LOT of states). Or at least... the higher level versions of my states are powerful against bosses.

    But, they're even worse against the player.

    Poison L1 - 2% HP reduction each turn. Lasts 3-5 turns.
    Poison L2 - 5% HP reduction each turn. Lasts 5-8 turns.
    Poison L3 - 10% HP reduction each turn. Lasts 8-12 turns.
    Poison L4 - 20% HP reduction each turn. Lasts 12-15 turns.

    They can stack as well. You can have Poison L1 through Poison L4 all on the boss or a character at the same time.

    So, obviously, inflicting Poison L1 or L2 on a boss, for early in the game, is equivalent to getting extra hits on them (as if you were just bashing Attack, after all, when you're doing 4-8 damage a turn, and Poison does 2 or 5 damage a turn... pretty powerful). Poison L3 guarantees a fight doesn't last longer than 10 turns with a boss. Poison L4 guarantees the fight doesn't last longer than 5 turns with a boss. VERY powerful. Yes? YES!

    But why? Because my bosses can do interesting things with the states. If I let you inflict Level 4 Poison on a boss, you can bet there are some mechanics the boss can use as counter-play. Maybe he can cure it. Maybe he can regen his HP. Maybe, his attacks become more powerful while he's Poisoned. If he dies in 5 turns, it's likely he's going to try to kill you in those 5 turns even more quickly. I have other bosses, that if you hit them with a version of a state, they can "retaliate" against it and use the same state (or a higher level of it) on you.

    All of this, to make the choice to inflict a state on an enemy... a valid one. Equally as valid as using your strongest skills. Evolving your skills into inflicting higher levels of states at higher percentages isn't a wasted option. It's a valid way to play.

    With all of that being said... Yeah, there are going to be some bosses you can just take out quickly and easily with Level 4 Poison. Because... why not? If the player doesn't exploit this weakness and instead fights the boss the long way... Oh well. However, it is doubtful a player will try every single state on every single boss just to try to find one that messes them up. If they know they are immune to all states except two or three... That means they are immune to about 7 or 8 other states. Do you want to spend that many turns to find the weakness? You can if you like (I suspect some players will reset to get this bonus on the boss, by trying everything, then reloading and doing what the weakness is on the first turn), but I doubt many players will care so much. It is likely that they might try a state every turn they're in combat if they'd decided that States are the way to evolve some of their skills. But, if they didn't decide to do that... Then, it's a 1 in 5 chance of inflicting a desirable state to steamroll my boss. Provided the boss has no counter to it, or interesting gameplay mechanic associated with it.

    My states are merely an option.

    And hey, sometimes... you just gotta reward the clever player who finds a way to "cheese" your boss without whittling them down with skills and attacks. It's about making combat feel good and tactical and rewarding good decisions. It's less about treating the player as an enemy to "give a challenge to".

    After all, we're essentially DM's. If we really want to kill the player or make all combat a slog, it isn't hard to do. Rocks fall, everyone dies. Monster has very high unreasonable defense and immunity to every state and element. Giving the player a challenge isn't the inherently fun part for players. Solving the challenge or finding a way around that challenge is often the fun part. Rewarding clever thinking.
     
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  18. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    I just use a plugin to allow for custom DoT damage formulae. The DoT ticks simply follow a damage per turn similar to other abilities (so say an ability uses ATK x 1 for damage, a DoT might do ATK x 0.3 per tick).

    The whole % of max hp formula makes no sense. Using that basically means it'll be too weak to use on trash enemies, and OP on boss enemies. Now I'm of the mind that giving the player OP abilities is great (so long as it feels OP but is actually within a planned design), but in a lot of these games the dev's decide to make this stuff not work on bosses. Which is laaaaaaame.
     
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  19. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    Because I run with small numbers and easy formulas, I handle those particular states as follows:

    Poison: Deals 10% total HP, unable to KO from it. Lasts only for a max of 5 turns (in general. Some skills and equipment can increase/decrease that time) and Removes after battle.
    But that makes it OP against Bosses!
    -
    Correct. Which is why most Bosses have immunity. The bosses that do not have immunity.. the strategy is supposed to be to use Poison! :)

    Burn: All Fire-type skills have 50% chance to Burn their target. Rather than Burn be an ongoing state, I simply add it in as extra splash Damage equal to 25% of the Damage dealt. And that's it. No means to heal it.. no state to be removed.. just outright bonus Damage potential.
    EX: MIA Casts Flamesword on Orc. Orc takes 100damage! Orc also takes 25BurnDamage!
    But that makes Fire the most powerful Element! Why would anyone use anything other than Fire??
    -
    Correct. It IS the most powerful.. in terms of Damage Output. However, Bolt type skills have a 25% chance of stunning the target. Ice type skills have a 100% reduction of speed by half on their target. Damage isn't the only way to win, folks. :)

    Bleed: I don't have a Bleed type state in the tradition DoT sense. My version of Bleed is actually called Wounded. Wounded reduces a target's Max HP by 20%. Permanently until healed. And no, your garden variety "Cure" won't cut it. Cure only restores all total HP, but does not heal Wounded. Instead, only select Job Classes & Items have access to skills that heal Wounded and restore HP back to full. Oh, also, so does resting at the Inn.
    But then you could just apply Wounded 5x and kill ANYbody!!
    -
    Incorrect. It can only be applied once and does not stack. It also can work on some bosses, which makes a big difference in some battles where the boss has a high HP Value.

    Hope you find this helpful! :)
    -MIA
     
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  20. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    It's okay because that's actually a really cool approach. I may be "borrowing" this formula for both my gravity spell and any dots I make, should I decide to do that. :D
     
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