- Jul 22, 2014
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I think it could also depend on how the skills scale with the character(s)? Because if, at endgame, my mage has 26 skills but only 10 of them are actually useful, it's kinda annoying and makes the skill choice interface a nightmare. On the other hand, if there's only 5 skills, and they're the exact same skills as at the beginning and the only way they've changed is because the character's stats have improved, then it's also annoying because you lose a sense of progression. So, personally, I like having a mix of simple skills that are useful near the beginning but scale as you go alongside more complex skills you get later. It can also help a lot with the problem of "okay, so these 10 MP skills don't do anything to the Big Boss at the end, so I need to give the player enough MP to constantly spam their high-power moves."
I'm really fond of this argument. There are at least two different, very good takeaways here:
- The obvious one: If some of your skills have become useless or some of your skills are "crowding out" other skills, you have too many skills (or a poor skill system in general).
- The profound one: If your skill progression has forced you (as the designer) to make the MP pool for mages so big that they can constantly spam their biggest, most powerful moves, then you need to intelligently streamline your skill progression and your mana costs.
This. Beyond this, it's a fairly complicated answer. You'll have to ask yourself how many characters there are and how to differentiate them, and if you have a lot of skills you have to ask yourself how often you're going to use skills. For example, Insta-Kill spells are almost useless because enemy mobs are generally too easy to bother wasting MP on, and bosses are almost invariably immune to them for obvious reasons. Thus, you're going to be using actual offensive abilities much more often.
It's certainly good advice to avoid giving characters skills that are nearly useless or skills that they will only use very rarely. With that being said (and with apologies for talking skill design in a conversation about skill quantity), I think that anyone who can't find a good way to incorporate useful utility/status skills into their battle system needs to immediately stop doing design and find someone who can incorporate useful utility skills, because otherwise their battle system is invariably going to suck.
Using your example of Insta-Kill (OHKO) spells being useless because normal enemies don't require skill use and bosses are immune to them:
- Most or all enemies should be strong enough to at least warrant the use of MP. Otherwise, why do you have MP users in your game (and why are you forcing your player to grind through these mindless enemies)? Stronger enemies would warrant the use of possibly expensive or unreliable OHKOs.
- Any effect that is powerful enough that you need to make most bosses completely immune to it is inherently bad design. A much smarter way to design around a powerful effect such as a OHKO would be to limit its power - for example, if the OHKO skill works, but the target still has more than (10x the user's MAT) HP remaining, then it does damage equal to 10x the user's MAT instead of instantly killing the target. This allows players to use the OHKO skills in general without breaking the game, allows them to "instantly kill" a heavily weakened boss monster (which feels great), and also makes it so that weakling monsters can't OHKO really strong party members - three great features from a really simple change to the skill.
- OHKO skills are often entirely RNG-based with low chances of working. A better-designed OHKO skill would add the chance of a OHKO onto a standard damage skill (so it doesn't feel horrible when it doesn't land its effect), and/or would boost its reliability to 100% but require certain conditions to be met (the user is in a Limit Break state, the user has already attacked the target X times, the target has certain states applied to them already, etc.).
In a way, this is connected to the reason I voted 12+ in the poll. I believe that when a designer practices smart skill design, that there really is room for that many skills on each character (assuming the game length and number of battles in your game justifies it) without any skills crowding each other out or feeling useless. There will be some situations where OHKO Skill #1 works well, some situations where OHKO Skill #2 works well, and other conditions where neither works well and it's better to opt for straight damage or defensive utility.