HP and MP on a Level up

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by kairi_key, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    This is probably a small thing and more of a hypothetical stuff, but...

    What is your opinion on how games handle current HP/MP of a character when s/he level up?
    Mostly, I see the option of if HP or MP is full it/they will still be increased to still be full, but if not then current HP/MP stay the same value. (Example: A currently have 90/100 HP and 38/38 MP before level up. After A level up, he has 90/120 HP but 40/40 MP instead) Some games even have current HP/MP stay unchanged in any situation when a level up occur.
    Do you like it? Or do you think it needs improvement?
    If you have experience some or simply have ideas, what are other interesting alternatives to have for this?
     
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  2. Aoi Ninami

    Aoi Ninami Veteran Veteran

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    The other alternatives I've seen are:

    (1) Level up restores gauges to full. One interesting feature of this system is that if you're having trouble in a dungeon, you can strategically plan when you get your level up so as to get the most benefit out of it.

    (2) Level up increases your HP and MP so that the percentage of maximum remains the same (e.g. 90/100 HP becomes 108/120). This is what I have in my own game; I don't like 90/100 becoming 90/120 because then it costs more resources to get back up to full, and it seems that increasing your maximum should be good and something to celebrate and shouldn't have that annoying downside.
     
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  3. Rinobi

    Rinobi Veteran Veteran

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    I prefer they remain at relative percentage values, as in @Aoi Ninami 's second example.

    Though I don't like the idea of getting a full heal on level up on paper, in practice it's always a welcome convenience when it happens.
     
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  4. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I usually see it increase by the same absolute amount (not percentage) as Max HP increases, so for example if you're at 40/100 HP, you level up and now you're 60/120. I like that way. I also like when you fully heal all your HP and MP, as a sort of "reward" and occasional lifesaver when you're low.

    I believe these tend to feel better than keeping current HP the same (or increasing by just a tiny bit if you're already low), so in most genres (especially single-player games) I would encourage it. In highly competitive games like MOBAs or multiplayer Strategy games, the "no extra current HP" or "percentage-based" approaches might work better.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  5. bigcalsworld

    bigcalsworld Veteran Veteran

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    I have my game restore your health and mp on level up. I really hate when games don't do it lol. But at the same time its not exactly a deal breaker lol. Pokemon games don't restore you on a level up but I still play the hell out of them :p.
     
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  6. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I actually don't like it when the game full heals you when you level up, for a few reasons.

    1) It breaks any balance if your game is based on attrition. If you want the player to have to juggle resources in a dungeon that goes out the window when they can get a full heal and full MP returned by leveling up on mooks. Imagine Persona 5 if you full healed and got all your SP back every level up. It would defeat all of the resource management portion of the game completely.

    2) In games where you get EXP in battle, you can use cheap tricks to bail yourself out. I once played a tactical game where I actually attacked my own party member just to get the small EXP I got from it, as that was enough to level me up and fully heal me.
     
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  7. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Oh yes, of course. If each mob battle is slowly sapping your HP/MP and resources, the recovery on level up won't work well. The recovery on level up works better in more brutal gameplay, although I use 50% HP recovery rather than full heal.

    Attacking your own party member is just silly. How would you do that? And importantly, why it gets exp while doing that?
    But speaking of tactic games, in Battle for Wesnoth, it also uses a level system that fully heals when the unit level up. It feels satisfying that a unit almost dies but it managed to kill an opponent unit then level up, turned the tide of battle. It feels satisfying.
     
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  8. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @TheoAllen : The game I played you always got 15 EXP if you attacked a same level unit. It didn't matter what unit or what side it was on. So if you needed a quick level up, just smack your party member lightly.
     
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  9. mauvebutterfly

    mauvebutterfly Veteran Veteran

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    When attrition is a balance consideration, I'd probably prefer gaining health and mana equal to the increase in their max values on level-up. Go from 100 to 110 max hp? Gain (heal) 10 hp in the process. This way the level-up can still feel immediately impactful without completely removing the attrition challenge.
     
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  10. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    Don't have strong preferences towards any, as long game balance is considered to go with whatever level up system the game is using.
     
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  11. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    You're definitely not wrong that full heals for Level Up can be problematic design-wise, but allow me to play Devil's Advocate and present why it's not usually that bad (and might even be worth the feel-good effect that comes from using the feature):

    "It breaks any balance if your game is based on attrition." - I think this is the strongest argument against full heals, but in the same breath, it also provides a rare out for the player that feels like a "miracle" if the player wasn't closely watching EXP (and they often don't). It's sort of the equivalent of when heroes you really like are completely cornered, nearly beaten, and then something comes to save them... except in this case, it doesn't feel like total BS, because it's an actual, consistent mechanic o the game that came to save them!

    "Imagine Persona 5 if you full healed and got all your SP back every level up." - This full-heal mechanic also isn't as gamebreaking as you claim (unless Level-Ups are happening super-frequently), because it's one character at a time that Levels Up, not the whole party. If I were in really bad shape in P5, and Ryuji happened to level up and got a full HP/SP heal... I dunno, I feel like maybe it would be enough to get me back to a Save Room, but wouldn't totally scuttle the exhaustion-based progression of the dungeon crawling.

    "In games where you get EXP within battle, you can use cheap tricks to bail yourself out." - This is true if you can get EXP within battle for repeatable actions besides KO'ing enemies (and the Level-Up can occur within battle). Through a lot of experience as a player and designer, I've personally found that this kind of EXP Gain always represents bad design because it misaligns the player's actual goals with the intended goal of combat. (This is kind of a shame, because the idea of getting experience for the things you do as you fight always sounds like a cool idea.) Therefore, the only type of EXP gain within combat that would represent good design would be getting EXP as you KO each individual enemy, and while that might completely shove the battle in your favor if a badly hurt character Levels Up, I think that falls under the "enjoyable miracle" umbrella more than it falls under the "cheap trick" one (because you're doing what you're supposed to do).

    So from a more broad viewpoint, I think that the full heal is a nice touch that's always welcome in games where the challenge tends to be acute (easy to restore resources, but each combat has a chance to kill you), and a risky but sometimes welcome design choice where the challenge tends to be chronic (no one normal encounter should hand you a game over if you came in fully rested, but each one will wear you down and eventually you'll run out of resources if you don't play well).
     
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  12. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Wavelength : The thing is, every game I played that did this, the EXP gauge was right there on screen for you to see at all times. So no close watching needed, you could just peek at it and see it was almost full so let's try this instead.

    As for Persona5, I don't know about you but every time I did a plot dungeon I got about 5 level ups or more for everyone in one trip. Now if those had all given me full HP/SP restores on top of that, restoratives would be either meaningless, or it would be easy to complete the dungeon in one trip. In fact, most dungeons already can be done in one trip if you are careful on the current system, the only one I had trouble with on this was the first dungeon as your starting SP pool is just pathetic.

    In all honestly, I think for HP/SP full restore to work well level ups need to be really rare. Like say Gold Box rare, where you might start the game at level 1 and end at level 6.
     
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  13. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Were we playing the same Persona 5? I'm only three dungeons in, but in every single one so far, I've been forced to leave the Metaverse at certain points because X or Y wouldn't open up yet, meaning that I had to make at least three trips to beat each dungeon (and therefore, even if I might gain 5 levels per dungeon, I'd only gain one or two per character on each run).

    I do have to agree with you that even at P5's pace, the balance would definitely be shifted significantly by full heals on Level Ups. However, if Level Ups were half as common in that game (and gave you twice the stats/access to new Personas), that would probably be enough to make it a welcome mechanic rather than a balance-breaker. You'd still want to leave the dungeon and rest up before tough mini-bosses or bosses.

    I don't think it needs to be that rare! If it's happening an average of once per dungeon per character, I think that's a pretty reasonable frequency to trigger the full-heal.

    Actually, thinking about it some more, we both sort of missed the differentiation between chronic-difficulty (resource depletion) systems that use Items as the limited resource you're going to exhaust, versus chronic-difficulty systems that use HP and/or MP as the resource that is consistently exhausted (with very little ability to refill them using Items).

    If a limited stock of Items is the limiter, essentially you might go into a dungeon being able to run through your HP/MP three or four times before you're out of points and out of items. In such a game, the Full Heal happening once or twice per character isn't a huge balance-breaking game-changer. In games where you're only supposed to have enough HP/MP to run through the dungeon when skillfully played, and you don't have a supply of Items to restore you a little throughout, then one or two Full Heals per character would definitely break the balance.

    Persona
    is sort of in the middle of that, with a lot of Items to restore HP while MP restoration items are uncommon. I do feel like halving the level-up frequency would be enough to allow full heals (as I mentioned above), but I'm not 100% confident in my read.
     
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  14. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    The plot dungeons most of the time you can run straight to the treasure room once you get past the early in/out let's settle on a plan. And usually that ended once you gained the new Persona user that joined you, so it made a little sense.

    Now the first dungeon is a lot of in/out but once you get all 4 party members and settle on a plan you can go all the way to the treasure room. I think I went from level 3 (or 4) to 9 in that run alone before I left due to running out of SP. 2nd dungeon I think you had a couple early force in/outs, and same with 3rd but I do recall once you got past those it was a straight shot.

    Now if you are overleveled you will get few level ups as Persona has always level scaled your EXP based on your level. And oddly enough, at least the PS3 version I played, it showed the wrong EXP earned per fight, I had times it said I got 465 EXP but I actually gained a lot less, as a quick check of your EXP before and after the battle would show you.

    Edit: I checked. Per Gamefaqs the first dungeon is a straight run on 4/20 or later. The 2nd has some in/out and might be the one you were thinking of. The 3rd is a straight run on 6/29 or later, and had one in/out sequence to start until Makoto joins.
     
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  15. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    This is the reason it was so insanely easy to level up in Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Advance (I used it in Tactics Advance most). Get a healer, they gain XP for healing anyone, even if they don't have damage. They naturally level up the fastest as a result. Then, since they're high level, strike them with your low level characters and get 50+ XP a slap... sometimes a full level a slap, depending on level disparity.
    ---
    My own personal opinion on HP and MP is... I don't really care how it's done. As a player, I just work with whatever mechanics the game gives me. If it's easily exploitable, I exploit it. Skyrim had a particularly useful exploit with their level ups. See, when you gained a level, you got to choose when you took it. Once you took it... full HP/MP/Stamina restore. Most of my runs have me saving several dozen Level Ups for "Emergencies". I'm about to die? Level up! It was also a game in which you needed very few "Perks" to be powerful, so it was beneficial to grab the few that would get you through most of the game, and save Levels for Emergencies.

    I've played games where I got no restore of HP or MP of any kind on level up. However much HP or MP I had, stayed the same. It just made me use my consumables more than I otherwise would have (which is something rare in an RPG, as you can get through 99% of them without ever using a single consumable).

    The decision on how to do them likely rests with what you want your game to do.
     
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  16. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Tai_MT : Ever play Tactics Ogre? The one I played had the same issue. The easiest way to get two level 50 characters was to create a level 1 healer and a level 1 fighter, take off all their weapons, then have the fighter attack the healer and the healer would heal themselves. They would never run out of SP (or MP or whatever they called it) until they leveled up, which then restored it to full. And the fighter was unable to kill them with no weapons equipped either.

    A few hours of that and you got a max level Fighter and a max level Healer and can decimate everything in the game. And the game even makes it easy to do as it has an auto battle feature so you can just turn on auto-battle, go to bed, and wake up to two max level characters.
     
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  17. Henryetha

    Henryetha Veteran Veteran

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    When I started 3 years ago, making my first game, I used full heals on levelUp. It turned out to be unbalanced - as bgillisp said.
    Sure, there are game designs which can handle full heals, so that should be taken into consideration.

    I also don't like the idea of having to use heal items (or spend extra mana for heal skill) in order to fill the extra hp bar, the player just got as a "reward".

    My current game includes a heal ability which would always heal 100% (not always usable, so it remains a tactical decision).
    I think it is thanks to that, that the lvl up gap didn't bother me so far.

    There are similar mechanics which can be used, like the Inn or a save crystal or whatever your game implements.

    Anyway, I personally like most, when the player gets his extra HP upon lvlup as full HP.
    (90/100 would become 110/120)
     
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