How many skills...

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Rayhaku808, Mar 15, 2017.

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  1. Rayhaku808

    Rayhaku808 Chubbizard Veteran

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    How many skills do you have in your game(s) per character? Enemies? What kind of skills are they? What's a good balance for how long or short your game is?

    Using my game as an example, so far I have 5 skills per character.
    • First and second skills are class skills. Every character that is a Warrior will share those skills, which may or may not be damage inflicting skills.
    • Third skill deals damage and is unique to that character.
    • Fourth would be a skill that is borrowed from their subclass when they gain access to it.
    • The fifth is a really strong one that a character wouldn't be able to use too often, a.k.a an ultimate. Edit: this skill is influenced by their primary class and subclass to create something unique.

    Enemies won't have more than 3 unless it's a boss. Two damage dealing skills and a utility/support skill.

    So what about you guys?
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  2. TheTitan99

    TheTitan99 Veteran Veteran

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    When dealing with games based around characters you do NOT customize, like in Final Fantasy 4 where Cecil is a knight no matter what, I try to avoid overwhelming the player with too many similar choices. I'd much rather have 3 unique skills than 20 skills that function mostly interchangeably with each other. So, the moment I cannot think of more unique abilities, I know I'm done. If that ends up being a lot of skills, I divide between multiple actors.

    There's no hard set limit to this, just a sense of how much is too much. Party size is a point. If you have 2 characters on a team, they'll probably be far more advanced and complex than if you have 10. Also, how you select moves is important. In Charge Turn Battle games like Final Fantasy 10, you use a move right after selecting it per character. In Final Fantasy 3, you select your entire team's moves all at once, then the turn plays. I find you can give more skills to a character in a CTB system, as you don't need to keep mental track of a million different moves at once. Once you've used it, you can forget it.

    I find a lot of RPGs mix up clutter and strategy. Just being full of stuff doesn't make it any good or strategic. It just makes it so you have to sort through pages and pages of junk. That's no fun.
     
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  3. lolshtar

    lolshtar Master of Magic thatknow nospell Veteran

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    That's a very good balance you have there, too many games have way too many skills that do the same thing.

    My characters have
    1 single target damage
    1 skill that is specialized depending on the main role. A tank will have a skill that gives more Threat, a healer will have his healing skill, etc.
    1 skill that does something special without dealing damage with a cooldown and no Action cost
    1 ultimate skill that vary depending on the character

    The trick is that those skills are upgradable by leveling up and changing the whole skill completely depending on what you choose.

    Enemies usually just have a normal attack type and a special skill that is randomized with a certain group of skills.
     
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  4. Shinma

    Shinma Lurker Veteran

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    I am not far enough into my new project to even begin working on skills, but for my first game I had 67 player skills spread out between 7 skill trees. Most skill trees had 7 skills each. Leadership had 9 and Spellcasting had 23. I also had a level cap of 20 since it was a short game.

    The way my game was laid out is that you chose a skill tree by the type of weapon you picked. After that, as you gain Soul Points you could further invest in your current tree or pick one of the other trees. A player could earn enough points to max out two trees each, so each character could have a varying skills.

    I had 30 enemy skills spread out between 46 enemies, including 4 mini-bosses and 5 bosses, one of which had 2 forms.
     
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  5. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    My current project timeblazer has 25-30 skills for each of the two main characters, although most are mutually exclusive so that a character will only learn 10-12 by the end of the game. Each skill has different strengths, drawbacks, and special utility. And the adventure, played once from start to end, is only two hours long! Boss enemies, meanwhile, tend to have 6-10 skills, many of which are unique to the situation.

    This probably sounds like an overload of different moves, but I've found that it creates a fun and dynamic play experience. The different combinations of skills, alongside the different battle situations the player can find himself in, mean that the player can make interesting decisions every turn instead of reverting to familiar patterns. A large skill pool is certainly not mandatory for a fun battle system, but more often than not it really helps. If you can come up with dozens of unique skills yourself, go for it! - and if you can't, then find someone that can, and then go for it!

    As a quick example of 3 very different damage-dealing water/ice spells for which the player will need to make a choice of just 1 to learn:
    • Bubble Blast - medium-cost spell that deals heavy damage and a massive slow to 1 foe, plus can randomly target up to 2 additional foes (good in situations with one priority target and other less important targets, or for general damage)
    • Crystal Storm - expensive spell with three hits that each deal medium damage to the same foe; each hit can Crit and if any hit Crits it Chills the foe, making them extremely vulnerable to physical attacks (good in situations where the mage has high Crit chance, or where her sword-wielding ally wants to use a high-power skill soon)
    • Snowball Fight - cheap spell that does minor damage to all foes, and creates "Snowball" items that can be used by anyone in the party and deal heavy damage (good in situations where MP conservation is more important than turn efficiency, or against very large enemy troops)
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  6. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    The key is not the number of skills, but how they complement or overlap each other and how they fit the game.

    What you don't do is provide skills that are replaced by better ones after a short while, or skills that the player has no reason to use.

    I can think of games where three skills would be too much (especially ABS-Type games) and I can think of games where three hundred skills would not be enough (while still keeping them usable) - and each actor should have their own skills unless they are really similiar characters with the same education. (That is one reason why hundreds of skills can work - different skills for a lot of actors)
     
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  7. RogdagoR

    RogdagoR Veteran Veteran

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    I'm actually planning to have 4 skills for each "stance" of every actor, plus 3 limits, and all actors have 2-3 stances(or you can call them class for better understanding). Also each skill has a sort of internal level(the more you use it the more it grow) that give you some point to spend for expand the effects of the spell. Plus i'm thinking to add some chain combos, but i'm still refining everything, don't know yet if this is too muc for the player lol
     
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  8. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    My current project, I have nearly all of the 2,000 skill slots filled, I have about three hundred left that I can still place skills in.

    Most of my skills have varying levels of intensity, that are unlocked as the character uses them. So my healer's spells become stronger versions of those spells the more they heal, my mage's fireball becomes stronger versions of a fireball the more they use their fireball, etcetera. I also have my enemies scale up to more powerful versions based upon their levels.

    Additionally weapons have different skills, that can only be used when those weapon are equipped, & gain bonuses based upon how much the character uses those weapons.

    I also have some class/archetype specific skills, that gain greater power from greater use. As well as enemy skills only used by certain enemy types, but not by the characters. Again scalable based upon enemy levels. Which I should have enough slots left for.

    Pretty much I am just using the usual assortment, though what the player uses is entirely based upon how the spec their character out.

    Taunts, Tanks, barrier spells, debarrier spells, buffs, debuffs, single target elementals, multi target elementals, elemental resistances, elemental weaknesses, healing spells, regen spells, revive spells, status effects, status effect removals, attack property alterations, weapon power strikes, weapon combo strikes, weapon multi target strikes, & summons.

    Just the standard RPG loadout.

    To keep it balanced, each character can only carry a set number of spells & skills into battle, very much like a tactical loadout. So no matter how many spells & skills they learn, they can only carry a set number into battle. So the player needs to plan the loadouts of each character, according to the role he or she wants them to play.

    Use of skills & spells is effected by cooldown timers & fatigue. The more powerful the spell or skill, the longer the cooldowns until it can be used again. As for fatigue, it is dependent upon the characters equipment. For example, both characters learn a skill that allows them to do a two hit combo attack with their prefered weapon; but one of them is a Rogue type using daggers & leather armor while the other is a Warrior type in full plate swinging a warhammer. The warrior is going to consume nearly double the amount of Stamina (TP) as the Rogue, because of his weapons & armor. So higher damage & defense, for the tradeoff of higher resource consumption.
     
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  9. byronclaude

    byronclaude Master of all things... (except the things I am no Veteran

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    I firmly agree. :)


    Actually... this is one of the instances where the developer's opinion is the only one that matters (something to savor and enjoy!). But I whole-heartedly agree with Andar... it has to make the overall game play experience GOOD.

    It has been my observation that any project involving the completion of a "skill tree" will automatically make me interested in a large number of skills. It allows the player to build a character in something like a chronological sense adding a touch of realism while also giving the player the ability to design custom characters.

    I think the real challenge that should be addressed if deciding on a large number of skills... ...is how do you keep all of them interesting/different/usable without creating nearly duplicate skills?
     
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  10. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    My personal preference is limiting the player to a few skills (like Chrono Trigger does. Most characters get something like 8 regular skills, then depending on who is in the party, 3 double techs... maybe four... and a single triple tech. For those not initiated in the game, a double tech is two characters combining their individual skills together into an entirely new skill that uses up both of their turns. Triple tech is all three characters doing this).

    My current setup is with 9 actors. Each has roughly 6 skills (a few of them have more. Two can learn 7 skills). However, these skills "level up" and so are replaced with stronger or more nuanced versions. Usually this is just simple things like, "do you want to gain a defense buff when you use Cover, or do you want to use Cover for longer?". This has resulted in each skill being about 10 separate skills. But, I don't want skills to "overlap", because I want each character to be their own thing. I have a character that gives out a full party Attack buff. I have another that does a full party Defense buff. I've got a character with a skill that uses their Defense stat against the enemy's Attack stat to deal damage (the character is meant to be a traditional tank with high HP and high defense, but he can deal a lot of damage with the right upgrades and high enough defense). I've got characters that specialize in certain elements of magic or uses of that magic (like someone who removes states and someone else who uses their physical stats for magic spells).

    As for monsters... They get skills as I need them. I needed an "Escape" skill for some early wolf monsters. So, I created one. I needed a "full HP recovery" skill for another monster in a boss fight, so I created one. Admittedly... I'm still creating skills for my characters, so that'll take a while to finish. But, the hardest part about that is simply ensuring no overlap. Same with the monsters. Though, it is much easier to create skills for monsters. Monster skills are usually boiled down to, "I want the player to do this in combat, here's how I'll get them to do it" and make it a skill. Making character skills is much harder since it's more like, "this is the intended use of this... but how will my PLAYERS exploit the crap out of it?". Or, mostly, "how can I even get my players to use this skill?".
     
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  11. KayZaman

    KayZaman Brother-Veteran Veteran

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    Mostly I make 2 or 3 skills for a character first, but between skills have different purpose. If wanna add more, then okay but make more that players thought could make players confuse.
     
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  12. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    In my super short game, I gave every character 4 skills (5 if you count the flip skill, which is available after using the primary first). For my big RPG, I have planned for each character to have a maximum of 10 skills equipped at a time, but there are some customisation options.

    I rather have fewer skills with greater complexity that see frequent use than a bunch of simple and very situationally useful skills.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
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  13. fireflyege

    fireflyege Magic is the destination of all wisdom. Veteran

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    Well, depends on the class.

    For example my mage has access to every element and my elements are Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Ice, Lightning, Light, Darkness, Aether (spirit), Astral (mental), Temporal (time) and Arcane (pure magic) and he has access to all of them, one single target and one AoE, he also has some support abilities and such so he needs all of them in different situations.

    You can always have too many skills, and that is not wrong if they outlive their usefulness.
     
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  14. Fernyfer775

    Fernyfer775 Veteran Veteran

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    I prefer quality over quantity. Make EACH skill serve a purpose, and not bloat the menus with a bunch of useless stuff, or abilities that are essentially the same as another, but with varying damage/mp costs. All too often I see games that follow that dreadfully boring setup of "Fire 1, 2, and 3" with each new tier just doing more damage and costing more resources to use #YAWN. Just remember, more, doesn't always mean better.
     
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