I need your opinion about increasing the agility stat

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Darth Equus, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Darth Equus

    Darth Equus Veteran Veteran

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    All right, folks, here I go:

    My game uses a custom system very similar to FFX's Conditional Turn Battle system: Based on agility, the playable characters' turns arrive, the player enters the commands, and the action executes immediately. This is in contrast to how the default system has the player fill their "sheet", submit it, and let friendly and enemy actions happen in the order determined by agility. Agility does not increase with level ups, for the sake of easily managing the enemies and keeping things strategic. As an example, this is how a battle will go:

    Ninja, agility 12, enters and executes command.

    Enemy bat, agility 11, acts according to its programmed behavior and uses a physical attack.

    Cleric, agility 10, enters and executes her command.

    Enemy snake, agility 9, acts according to programmed behavior and uses a venomous bite on the knight. And so on. Notice that the playable characters have even numbers for their agility stats, while the enemies have odd ones.

    The agility stat does NOT affect the number of turns (nothing does, in fact), so a character with AGI 10 will not get ten turns for each one that an enemy with AGI 1 takes. They will simply alternate turns over and over.

    This is what I want to do, and want to ask your opinion about: When the player defeats the boss of that region, I plan on giving each character a bonus of +2 to their agility score. Why? This way, the playable characters can choose to stay around or return to that area and farm if they choose so, and not get pre-empted by the enemies which are now small fry. (This way, a level 60 knight doesn't have to wait to get a venomous bite from the same snake that tormented him when he was level 5). I am making the game so that it's beneficial to the player to farm if they choose so, but not a requirement, so that's not a big concern. (I myself don't mind grinding in some games for the sake of becoming stronger)

    Of course, enemies in later areas will have higher agility scores than the snakes and bats of the first forest, so that some of them will be able to pre-empt the healer and cast paralysis on another character, or silence the magician when the player first visits that area. I plan on keeping things in proportion so that there's a challenge without it being unfair, or letting the player mop the floor with the enemy before they become strong enough.

    Now, someone from my team is vehemently opposed to this, claiming it's pointless, and that the player should instead prepare against the venomous snakes of the first forest, dealing with them in the same turn order as they did when they started, even now that they are 10 levels higher, for example. His opinion is to keep agility static all the time, as we originally planned. (Just got the idea of the agility bonus today. Consider this similar to how Mega Man gets a weapon by defeating the boss of a stage, then returns to that stage and mops up the enemies with such weapon.)

    I say that doing it my way benefits the player when facing enemies that were a threat before, but now have become small fry, and by adjusting enemies and bosses in later areas, in proportion so that the order of turns remains the same, does not harm the challenges ahead.

    I don't want to use the "It's my game so we'll do it my way" card here, because this person has been a big support along the development of the game, and one of the few that has stuck with me, not to mention a very good buddy of mine, and don't want to alienate him that way.

    So... what do you think? Does my idea have merit and can be used to give the player a fair advantage when needed, or a pointless mechanic that would result in extra work without need? Please let me know what you think; and thanks in advance for your time and consideration.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
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  2. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    So I’m going to ask a bunch of questions for the sake of better understanding your game design and where you and your teammate are coming from:

    - There’s one thing I’m initially confused about: you say that in your original design, Agility won’t increase with level ups, but elsewhere you say that enemy Agility will increase as the player runs into stronger monsters. Did you mean that enemy Agility doesn’t increase in your original design, but it would increase if you decided to implement the Agility increase for players? Or did you mean that certain specific enemies would have slightly higher Agility scores later, but Agility wouldn’t continue to increase past this point? Otherwise it just sounds like everything would outspeed the player after the first couple of areas, and I assume that’s not how it actually works in your game.

    - Is your teammate opposed to all Agility increases period, or just to giving the players baseline AGI increases? Would it be possible to compromise with temporary AGI buffs, or skills/equipment which increase AGI, or maybe even special AGI-boosting consumables that only work in specific areas (maybe they’re only available for purchase after you kill the area boss). You could also make the buff skills/items available conditionally: perhaps you need to clear 3-5 battles in the area before you can trigger them, and leaving the area resets the count.

    - If you had to estimate roughly, how much would the Agility increase effect the EXP/hour of each area relative to the next one? I don’t think grinding is inherently bad, but if you specifically increase the efficiency of grinding in lower-level areas, it’s possible that it could actually end up being more efficient for players to do some or all of their grinding in those areas instead of taking time to fight enemies in the next one. They’ll save resources and time going back to town by doing so, which could indirectly increase their EXP/hour. It’s fine if players want to take time to give themselves an advantage in the next area, but grinding in previous areas should never actually be faster than progressing normally.

    - Are your regular encounters generally designed as quick, straightforward battles, or are often they longer, more tactical affairs? In the case of the former, I do generally agree that when going back to fight through old/weak enemies, I want to just get it over with. There are no surprises coming anymore, and if I’m just going to one-shot enemies anyways, it’ll just be annoying if they’re chipping at my HP and inflicting status ailments on me the whole way. On the other hand, if each battle is designed to be more involved, enemy AI uses distinct tactics against players, and their strength scales with the player’s, then it’s potentially diminishing the fun of battles to give players easy wins. So I think you should consider the general style of your battles and how strong a player is supposed to be relative to regular enemies after clearing each area boss.

    Those are my initial thoughts. Hope this helps you to reach a solution!
     
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  3. Darth Equus

    Darth Equus Veteran Veteran

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    Ah, yes. I see I wasn't being clear there. Let me see...

    Point one: Originally, there were no agility increases for anyone. Player or enemies, at all. The order of battle would be Ninja, Bat, Cleric, Snake, Knight. Now and forever, regardless of how high the levels of the playable characters were.

    Now, let's apply the idea I got: The playable characters get their agility bonus after defeating the boss of the first dungeon, and decide to farm and grind in that same area for a while. Now the order of the battle is Ninja, Cleric, Bat, Knight, Snake.

    Then the player moves onto the next kingdom/land/dungeon, and finds stronger enemies, so the order of battle with the new enemies is Great Bat, Ninja, Great Snake, Cleric, Knight, because these enemies' agility is higher than the player's, even after the bonus from the prior boss fight. But after defeating the boss of this new land, they get another agility bonus, and have a slight advantage over the Great Bat and Great Snake, just like they did over the regular Bat and Snake in the first dungeon. Hope this clarifies the first point.

    Point two: My teammate is opposed to all agility increases, period. There are a couple of agility-increasing accessories, but they won't be easy to get, as they could break the flow of the battle and robbing it of strategy at all times. The way the system is set up, an agility buff may ROB a character of their turn, as it shuffles them to the front of the turn list and force him/her to wait until everyone else takes theirs, even if they are next in the list. An oddity of the custom system, but I can work my way around it perfectly. So, temporary in-battle agility buffs are out.

    Point three: I estimate a 20 to 50% increase in the efficiency grinding at those areas after the bonus. The Cleric can now finish off the Bat or soften the Snake for the Knight, as both of them will be able to act before it attacks or envenomates a member of the party, which also means not having to use a turn and antidote/MP curing the state or lost HP.

    Point four: All encounters will be designed with some tactics in mind for efficiency, and to make worth the effort of learning the skills the player will acquire (Remember how many enemies were weak to Petrify in FF6? I think about two). Though they'll also be able to push their way through with the good old combo of Hit Everything That Moves + Heal Afterwards if they want, of course. BUT, after getting their +2 agility bonus by defeating the boss, they will be able to use the tactical approach sooner, or just massacre the Bats through brute force before they can even act, making combat with the Snake(s) easier.

    In a few words, I want to use this mechanic to make it so that the enemies are a reasonable challenge for the player when they first come across them, but a reasonable breeze once they've become stronger. (Similar to how in Earthbound some enemies would just flee and leave you the Exp if your level was high enough, saving you time to do the battle in which you would have squashed them anyway)

    I hope this clarifies my intentions, and thanks for your thorough response.
     
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  4. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    I can see why you'd go with such a combat system.. you can decide what to do as each entity acts and changes the state of the battle rather than deciding batches of actions against batches of enemy actions. I also understand why your teammate might want to maintain agility at the same level through the game.. since things like the poisonous snake would realistically always be faster than a knight in heavy armor.. Id also imagine that enemies which act quickly but deal little damage wouldnt be much of a problem outside of an enemy that deals something like poison damage or other states which you're making costly to remove.

    I want to point out though that changing how agility works and shifting the entire battle system for the sake of a few enemies is not the only answer. You could change the way poison works for example.. to make it flat damage rather than percentages and have a poison status inflicted by the low level snake deal very little damage to the higher level knight. You could make it only last for the number of turns you'd expect to be problematic to the challenging level of approach for said monster. I wouldnt throttle the whole system just because of a few problems such as these.

    Im assuming poison is the problem because negligible damage being delt by an inferior enemy before the party can attack to me isnt a problem at all. having bigger armor/weapons/skills/stats from being higher level is enough of an advantage and being dinked by a bitty hit doesn't really matter that much.
     
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  5. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I do have some concerns about any battle system as a whole where first-mover advantage is so important that allowing the player to manipulate who gets it (at the cost of building other stats) would be the difference between 'strategic' and 'not strategic'. So if I were leading this project, I'd want to take a careful look at the battle system as a whole and whether the decisions I've made along the way are forcing me to aim for too narrow a target in order to achieve good balance.

    With that said, if you view your only two options as "AGI is always constant" or "Characters get +2 AGI after beating a boss", then I highly recommend the +2 AGI approach. Here are a few reasons that this is a better approach:
    • Low-level enemies (against high-level characters) cannot present a credible threat. They can only be annoying. You never, ever want to annoy your player without a higher purpose (like presenting actual challenge). Making players sit through three extra buzzing flies attacking before they wipe the enemy troop, when the end result is already pre-ordained, is annoying.
    • Since the other stats (like ATK, MAG, DEF, etc.) can presumably scale, fast characters will be able to compensate for their other stats through scaling, whereas slow characters will presumably be worse than the fast ones once both have scaled. The +2's won't help the slow characters against "current" enemies in the highest dungeon you've gotten to, but at least it will put them on par with, or above, fast characters against previous enemies.
    • Turn order is one of the most visceral, 'feel-able' improvements that characters can achieve. Most other stats just affect numbers, which are hard for players to appreciate, but players will appreciate the growth in their power when their slow characters get to act faster against lower-level foes. Simply as a feel-good, having this increase in turn order is going to inspire good feelings in your players.
     
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  6. Darth Equus

    Darth Equus Veteran Veteran

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    Thank you for your insight, everyone.

    Countyoungblood, good points. I'll try to implement them if possible, particularly the states being less aggravating for a high-level party.

    Wavelength, those were my reasons for implementing the mechanic, thank you so much for the feedback.

    If there are any more counterpoints from anyone, please let me hear them. I want to also listen to points that disagree with my ideas, for the sake of being fair.

    Thanks one more time.
     
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  7. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I've moved this thread to Game Mechanics Design. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

     
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