Is avoiding elements a good thing?

fireflyege

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Here is the question, the elements are simply becoming a nuisance. Exploiting elemental weaknesses is satisfying and I wanna include that but elemental characters like black mage has a problem with having 10 same spells but just with a different element with slightly different utility.

I am tired of this actually. But I want to still include elements and stuff. I do not know what to do. When I was designing other characters the elements were not a concern and all of them are masterpieces, but when a character needs to use the elements to do something I had a problem.

So I am asking you, is avoiding elements a good thing or I must do what?
 

Milennin

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I don't use elements and works totally fine.
 

fireflyege

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If my world was not so dependant of all the elemental balance and things it has, I would maybe not use them as well. But I fear not including the elements in the battle would contradict with the story.
 

Wavelength

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Make elements correspond to the style of the skills/spells, instead of using Element Rates.
 

Eschaton

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Try expanding the utility of your your skills. Instead of just hurting ice enemies, your Black Mage's Fire skill could also Debuff the Defense of any target it hits. Maybe the Black Mage's Fire skill inflicts damage over time that could be used to counter an enemy's HP Regen. Or maybe your Black Mage's skills all have a reliable crowd control feature (Fire = panic, Ice = freeze, Bolt = stun) that she can use to lock down a group of targets for a turn or two. Maybe her Fire skill can do all of these.

Bonus points if these features are hidden, allowing the player to experiment and develop tactics which exploit the features. Maybe NPCs will explain these features the the player who actually talks to them.
 

lianderson

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Every element I use has an innate status effect associated with it from burning to knocking down. Also, most elements having different stat formulas for both offense and defense. (like wind magic uses some dexterity, or intelligence helps reduce dark magic taken)

These types of changes directly resolve your design concern.
 

Benjamin Kuli

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It can be a problem if it is different only in name, but has no real purpose other than the rock-paper-scissors battle scheme with weakness and resistance. Elements can have its own perks IF they are different.

For example, if you have no real class system in your game, you can make elements function as pseudo-classes, especially if your characters can choose class (at least in the very beginning of the game). For example, instead of having a "healer" class, you have the element of water that are mostly healing-based techniques with minimal to no offensive attacks. On the other hand, instead of a "damager" class, you can have fire to include heavy attackers. You can even include multiple elements that function as the same "class", yet with minor differences. For example, if you have both fire and wind as attackers, fire can be a "high risk, high reward" kind of damager (even can include "recoil"), while wind can be a more "combo-oriented" element with more balance.

Even if you include a weakness/resistance system for the elements, in this case, at least they are more than just, you know, names. They have different functions in this case.
 

kirbwarrior

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elemental characters like black mage has a problem with having 10 same spells but just with a different element
The others posted probably better answers but I went more simple. Each character or class was based around 2 elements. Classes that were supposed to feel narrow had only one (for instance, a generic pyromancer is for hire in one town), while wide classes have 3 to mirror black mages of Final Fantasy. And that's with there being 8 or 13 elements (depending on which half of the game you are in). One character did get around this to being able to abuse all 13 elements, but indirectly. Once an enemy has been scanned (or you know their weakness in some manner), his Massacre would always hit the enemy weakness. If it wasn't known, you get a choice to pick. Now, Massacre was his optional quest ability, which is why it's allowed to be so good.
 

Lonewulf123

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Make elements do more than just deal extra damage.

Have hitting an elemental weakness provide a buff to the attacker when they hit correctly, or debuff the enemy.

I don't think an elemental system is necessary, but if it's going to be use don't spice it up a bit.
 

Anthony Xue

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Everyone's always on combat, combat, combat. Ever tried to make an ice spell freeze a bridge over a cold river? A water spell douse a field of flames so the party can pass? Or maybe work on dry herbs which then blossom again so they can be harvested? Especially in a world where elemental balance seems to be important, I'm sure there are some uses besides battle effects. Of course, it depends on how far you are in your game - if map design is almost done, it'll admittedly be difficult to add this stuff retroactively.

As for battle effects, the others have already summed it up. Side effects in style of the respective element are probably the way to go, like ice effects freezing (= stunning) the enemy. You might also consider elemental defense instead of offense, like a water wall against fire damage which otherwise would burn much of the party to crisp. An earth spell might do both (hail of rocks and shield of rocks at the same time sounds like a solid allround action).

Finally, if elements play such a big role in your game world, there might be other ramifications as well, like dark element (fire would work as well) spells being really damaging, but also summoning angry shadow (lava) spirits on certain maps if you have used them too often and thus stirred the magical atmosphere of the shadow plane. Or vice versa, water spirits are coming after you more often because you've shown that you're a friend of the fire. Maybe the high priestess of the water temple must now be bribed specially because otherwise she won't even talk to you. And so on...
 

BrandedTales

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I love the idea of having spells aligned to non combat items, but I really think that could end up an overwhelming amount of work unless you create some very specific situations... Which runs the risk of feeling artificial. Maybe the spells help break through bonus features of the game... Sort of like obstacles in a lot of the Lego games (you see a silver barrier, you use xyz skill to bust it down). Maybe not required, but completionists will dig it.

On the combat front, one way I've seen this dealt with (apart from ongoing status effects) is how the damage ranges.
Maybe lightning has a wide range, capable of big damage (or miniscule).
Maybe fire has a greater chance of scoring a critical hit.
Maybe ice is steady and predictable, but ultimately has a slightly lower damage curve.

Then of course you can mix and match what the other traits and statuses... And if you are feeling really ambitious, create buffs or equipment effects that play into the strength of each element (ie double damage from critical hits may work well with your fire spells having an open increased crit chance).

And if all this sounds like more headache than value for your game... Drop it! Elements grant opportunity to add depth. If they add needless complexity, they totally are not worth it.
 

fireflyege

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@Anthony Xue That is actually a good idea. I already planned to do cutscenes where the characters perform magic or do special techniques.

There are more corrupting elements like blood magic and mental magic. I will think of some ways to include them.

@BrandedTales I do not plan adding needlessly complex battle styles anymore, I will keep the elements but not make the gameplay entirely depend on them.

Also I will change the gimmick of the only character elements would be troublesome, so that should be fine.
 

Sir-Drass

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Persona 5, if you haven't played it, does a little to improve and diversify elements by having almost every element have an associated debuf that either weakens them, and/or leaves them vulnerable to another element while they're inflicted with it. Like a burning enemy takes additional wind damage because it whips up the flames. I'm not sure if that fits what you're using your elements for, but its a good way to make each element feel more unique.
 

fireflyege

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@Sir-Drass It actually is used by many games like Epic Battle Fantasy where water skills make you wet causing you to take more damage from ice and lightning but less damage from fire.
 

Yakly

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Don't know if this would work in your game, but I always think it's interesting when games use non-classical elements, or additional elements to the classic elements.

Recently I've been playing Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, which has the traditional Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. But it also has Time, Space, and Mirage. It also aligns spell effects with certain elements. All healing spells are Water element, for example. Wind spells have the widest area of effect. And so on.

Then you have Pokemon, which has 18 types that are basically elements. Granted, that is a game based on collection and team strategy, so it makes sense to have that many... but you could still borrow ideas, like how instead of a single "Earth" element, Pokemon has Ground, Rock, Steel, and Grass.... which I suppose is rooted (ha ha) in the classical Asian division of Earth into Wood and Metal.

Then there are some games that just invent their own elements. Kingdom of Loathing has Hot, Cold, Spooky, Sleaze, Stench. Quest for Glory has a fifth element, Pizza. Those are humorous examples, but you can do this seriously too. Like OFF has Smoke, Metal, Plastic, and Meat, which aren't played for jokes.
 

sirgames

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Make elements do combo with each other, for example
fire skill then fire skilll = burning
water then thunder = double damage from thunder
water + water = all enemies takes double damages from thunder next turn
 

kirbwarrior

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Make elements do more than just deal extra damage.
Simply put, this. Elements can do so much, even if not directly attached to the element. For instance, I was playing a game were Volt was the single target magic because a bolt hits only one location.
Everyone's always on combat, combat, combat. Ever tried to make an ice spell freeze a bridge over a cold river? A water spell douse a field of flames so the party can pass? Or maybe work on dry herbs which then blossom again so they can be harvested? Especially in a world where elemental balance seems to be important, I'm sure there are some uses besides battle effects. Of course, it depends on how far you are in your game - if map design is almost done, it'll admittedly be difficult to add this stuff retroactively.
I love noncombat integration. Final Fantasy 4 does this a few times.
Sort of like obstacles in a lot of the Lego games (you see a silver barrier, you use xyz skill to bust it down). Maybe not required, but completionists will dig it.
Kirby: The Crystal Shards did. All powers in that game were element combos and barriers to get secret things were blocked by them.
Like a burning enemy takes additional wind damage because it whips up the flames.
I really like this idea! It makes party composition important.
it's interesting when games use non-classical elements
I love it when games do this. I've seen games not even have elements in the traditional sense; One game had 'Magic' for spells and five elements for weapons and one more for barehanded.
 

ScientistWD

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All that's important here is to make sure that players interact with the elements in a meaningful way. Like you said, landing that elemental weakness is fun, but adding a bit more nuance can be just as entertaining.

I think though, that the best thing to do to fix your "black mage" problem is simple. First, keep the Black Mage exactly the same. And second, give more elements to all of the other classes. Maybe just one or two like the others posts say.
For example, a nature character might have elements of Light, Wood, Wind, Water, or things like that. While a thief character might carry Darkness and Wind. A fighter might have Fire, Earth, and Thunder. A cleric might just have Light and nothing else. Some classes or characters naturally have some certain elements, and some (such as this Black Mage) might have a small amount of all of them. As long as there are enough classes to support this type of design, it should work great.

In my latest game, there are only four characters. So, I gave them all different classes, and each class had a different element. So that in the end, different characters are better against different enemies not only in a mechanical way, but also in an elemental way.

That's how I like it, anyway.
 

fireflyege

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@ScientistWD actually I kept the elements the same, but found a way for my black mage to work. I am having a new approach to all the characters. It is related to the elemental discussion so I am writing this here.

30+ skills on a character can become particularly problematic since skill windows become an issue but not when they are on situational skillsets. For example a character having two trance like abilities which choose two types of skills that have +15 each. The character now has 30+ skills but cannot reach all of them, and of course changing between those skillsets requiring the caster to give an opening would also add a lot to the gameplay.

So in the first stance the guy uses natural elements which are Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Ice and Thunder and in the second stance he uses ethereal elements which are Light, Darkness, Aether, Mental, Temporal and Arcane so he basically has access to all elements, just none at the same time. I am still working on that though. Of course, both of those stances will have some things in common but their play styles will be completely different.

I do not need making a skill ''Do damage but with a different element and slight change in utility.'' instead I will make the skills combo like but you will have the luxury to replace a part of the combo if you need it for example the times when the enemy resists the most damaging part of your combo.
 

acidhedz

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You could also try things like Yanfly's Plug-ins for Limited Skill Use: http://yanfly.moe/2016/01/09/yep-56-limited-skill-uses/, and Equip Battle Skills: http://yanfly.moe/2016/04/08/yep-90-equip-battle-skills-rpg-maker-mv/

As for elements. My primary backgrounds are writing and music, so I tend to take a layering approach to making games. I start simple, then add layers of complexity. I like elements because it's a fast way to add another layer to combat. Then I give each element at least one state it may inflict.
Or I tie it to something. Like Necromantic/Death magic stealing HP or MP, instead of normal damage.
Which is, of course, what most people do.
And that's where I tend to leave it. Guess I just don't consider them to be a vital, ahem... element, of game mechanics. I just think of them as types of damage that can be done.
One project I've got has 23 "elements". 4 basic forms of physical damage plus enchanted and armor piercing, 10 elements and magic types, and 7 racial types for Bane weapons. With occasional overlap, such as Necromantic. It's both a type of magic, and the racial type of undead.

One character in my last game has a spell called Torture that can inflict a DoT, and I briefly considered having a screaming SFX go off every time it proc'ed. But as amusing as I would find that, I figured most people would be a bit put off. Point being that you can give states and elements their own flavor with things other than mechanics.

Overall, my motto is "do what makes sense". With a healthy dose of the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple Stupid)
If something doesn't sit right with me for the setting I'm working in, I don't use it. And if I don't think it's adding something beyond complexity for the sake of complexity, I don't use it.
Like a Sci-Fi Setting. It really doesn't make sense that a flamethrower would do more damage to someone than a bullet, both are pretty effective. Albeit one tends to be messier.
But it does make sense that someone might have armor that the flamethrower will still hurt (heat is heat, and being on fire eats all the air), while a bullet might bounce off. On the other hand, someone might be in flame ******ant power armor that has an air supply... and then you'll need some sort of BFG.
 

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