Is it possible to have too much states in a project?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by S.Court, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. S.Court

    S.Court Veteran Veteran

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    Hi. I was working in my project and I saw I have a total of 13 states (talking specifically about negative states) in my project, just for a demo of maybe 2-3 hours. That made me think about something. Can a project arrive to a point where it has too much negative states? I'm sure we can't talk about a specific quantity, but how can a designer know when the project he/she is making uses too much negative states? Can you think of an example of a game actually has too much negative states?
     
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  2. Llareian

    Llareian Jack of All Trades, Master of None Veteran

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    That does seem like a lot for that length of game. You have to think of it all from the perspective of a player that comes in to your game knowing nothing about it or what tactics you've written. I'd say if the player is having to learn about a new state & how to counteract it every 10 minutes (on average), that's too much. That's not even considering all the other skills, equipment, items, and enemies they'll be exposed to throughout your game. You may get a couple of freebies for very common states like sleep or confusion, but then again, you can't count on all your players having previous RPG experience.

    Now if your game's combat mechanics are ALL about states and you've stripped out other aspects like elements, you might be able to get away with more.

    It's hard to say what the "right" amount is, though. I think generally that your player shouldn't spend your whole game learning new things; they should get some time to just play with what they already know at each tier.
     
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  3. Philosophus Vagus

    Philosophus Vagus The drunken bird dog of rpg maker Veteran

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    I think that the biggest danger states face is not that you might make too many of them so much as that you fail to adequately disclose to the player what the states do. It doesn't matter whether there are five or fifty of them if the player doesn't know what it means when they are leeched, or cannot tell the difference between poison or toxic until they've allowed them to damage them and maybe risk losing because they didn't realize right away that toxic drains 30% health per tic while poison only drained 5%. Or maybe they waste a turn popping an antidote to cure the new toxic state only to realize after the fact that antidotes don't work on that type of poison, and that you need a super antidote instead, which they didn't realize existed until they encountered the new state and tried to cure it with a regular antidote.

    One of the least intuitive features of how the rpgmakers work by default is how they handle states in my opinion, it honestly baffles me that there isn't a way to pull up a menu with an explanation of the active effects a character is suffering (or benefiting) from by default, as the text that comes up when you inflict the state and the two lines you have in skill descriptions just aren't sufficient for explaining what states do (especially when you also want to add flavor text describing the skill, or give an idea of the formula that determines whether adding said state is successful or just how it's damage is calculated roughly on top of that), not to mention even if all your skills have perfect descriptions, that still doesn't tell you what that new state you've never seen before does when an enemy inflicts you with it. From what I've seen the lack of that feature alone is responsible for the vast majority of rpgmaker games criticized for having status effects that are too confusing (and why the majority of rpgmaker games stick fairly rigorously to Final Fantasy's flagship states with little to no deviation and are rightfully criticized for being lame FF clones in that regard).

    One of the very first things I did with my game was to figure out a way to disclose that information intuitively, setting up a window that can be pulled up at the press of a button in battle that displays all active states and buffs/debuffs affecting the actor awaiting a command so that players can understand that weakened cuts their attack in half rather than just seeing the negative attack status and having to experiment and bumble their way through figuring out whether it reduces it by 20%, 50% or whatever by trial and error. One of the worst ways to lose a game is because you simply didn't understand the rules until after it's to late to bounce back from mistakes born in ignorance, so if you want to get creative with the states players have access to and are exposed to, I say go for it, just make sure you figure out a way to give the player the necessary information they need for using and countering those states, because the default rpgmaker system forgot to include that feature for some strange reason.
     
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  4. Fernyfer775

    Fernyfer775 Veteran Veteran

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    As long as you have a way of showing the player what each state does, no, I don't think having too many is necessarily a bad thing. Like Philosophus Vagus pointed out, he made sure to find a way to disclose status/buff/debuff information to the player via a window, which I think is the absolute perfect way of allowing the player to know what exactly every status effect (good or bad) does.
     
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  5. D.L. Yomegami

    D.L. Yomegami Sanely Insane Veteran

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    The way I see it, if each state feels distinct enough from the others, then one could probably get away with having more of them.

    You don't need ten states that all basically translate into "the target can't move." It's probably better to have one state be "can't move," another state be "can't use this specific skill type," or whatever distinctions you want to make between them. Not only does that help reduce clutter, it also helps reduce confusion for the player since only one state's doing one thing at any given time.

    It also helps if these states actually contribute something to the gameplay. A state that fails to affect anything the player wants it to affect is probably a wasted slot. Likewise, a state that doesn't do anything the player's other options can't do is probably a wasted slot.
     
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  6. Titanhex

    Titanhex Do-It-All Veteran

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    TL;DR: Yes.

    The long answer: Yes, absolutely, one hundred percent.

    Every part of your game should serve a purpose, be viable, and be concise to a thematic element. This is solid advice for any indie developer, where time and resources are limited.
    The longer the negative state is viable in your game, the better. Instead of expanding the number of states, instead expand on existing encounters where the state can be useful.

    Become well versed at using subtractive design. That is, eliminating parts in your game that do not fit into the thematic element or enhance the core mechanic. The more precisely these two things are defined, the better your use of subtractive design will be. Elements that fit these both are considered harmonic, and best serve the game. Creating harmonic elements are easier when both the thematic element and core mechanic are intertwined.
     
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  7. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    There's no number of states that is "too many", but in general, it's good design to make sure that every state feels unique, in both its aesthetics (name, state icon, etc.) and its function (if two states do very similar things, they should usually be combined into one state.

    Also, as a couple people have mentioned, it's a really good idea to make sure that people know what each state they're affected by is doing. So if there are more than 12-15 states in your game, I heavily recommend adding a way for players to check what states do while they're in the middle of combat - such as a Battle Status window.
     
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  8. velan235

    velan235 Veteran Veteran

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    I think in term , most rpg did have "too much" (especially one that based on final fantasy) , like toad/mini/balloon/petrify/death/something similar that basically "deadly if you don't remove it" , toad/mini has special occasion that need to be inflicted if I remember correctly , but most of them just
    "so I need to restock different healing for each state because I can't let them infect the group more than 1 turn"

    despite that , newer games / indie are trying their best to make states more meaningful than just a variance of weird disadvatages

    (Darkest Dungeon has bleed/poison/stun)
    (Slay the Spire has A LOT of states that really changes the tides of battle and unique scenario in battle)

    so , based on example above , I guess number of states is not really the problem, but more of "how to make every states meaningful". you can have 3 states like DD or lot of them like slay the spire, because both works perfectly IMHO
     
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  9. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I develop a game, I make states along the way. I make a new enemy, I want a certain gimmick for this particular enemy, I make a new state. Either new buff or debuff. I never feel bad about it.

    The problem arise from my previous game that there is no such information given to the player what this or that states actually do. So, there is no such a thing of too much states. As long as you could tell the player what they actually do
     
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  10. Canini

    Canini Veteran Veteran

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    In my opinion 13 states does sound a little excessive for a 1-3 hour game. Not that many states in itself is bad, it is more that it may be confusing for the player as to what state does what. I mean, if these 13 states are unique that sound great but I really have a hard time figuring out how that would work.
     
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  11. Failivrin

    Failivrin Final Frontiersman Veteran

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    The early FF games had way too many negative states, but that was a flaw in execution. Some states had obscure effects, and the player was not given a guide. Other states were practically useless because they could not affect bosses. But the most common problem in FF games was redundancy. There was very little difference between Mini, Frog, and Pig states; and they seemed to have the same success rate as Death spells, including no success against bosses. Players deserve strategic options, not comic relief =p
     
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  12. Canini

    Canini Veteran Veteran

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    @Failivrin
    If I remember correctly one of the early FF games (think it was the third one?) tried to different between the spells by making some of them part of a puzzle (such as mini to go through holes). It was an interesting idea but executed pretty badly. Are there any positive states in OP:s game?
     
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  13. Failivrin

    Failivrin Final Frontiersman Veteran

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    Yeah I think there was a segment in one game where getting turned into a pig is briefly incorporated into the story, but I also felt it was executed badly.
     
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  14. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    Personally I think it's a question of how they are implemented.

    In my own project I have nearly one hundred different status effects, but I am rather pleased with that number, & it doesn't feel excessive.

    For example with each of basic magical the elements, I have states that imbue the weapons with specific elemental damage types, I have states that make a target more vulnerable to specific elemental damages, states that make allies more resistant to specific elemental damage types, states that make allies able to absorb specific elemental damage types, & injuries specific to certain elemental damage type attacks. So each element has five basic states tied to it, & with a total of eight basic magical elements, thats forty different states right there.
     
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  15. MrZalgo

    MrZalgo I am not Edgy, I am Fabulous Veteran

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    My main project is planned to involve a lot of status effects, (I have currently designed at least 20 right now.) but I tend to try to make these changes meaningful to the combat. For example: I can make a simple burn effect called "Scorch" which does the usual fire damage, but I could make it so that the fire burns so much that healing a player affected will be much more limited than if he didn't have "Scorch."

    You could also differentiate a status effect by giving it a creative name that sounds threatening. Dark Souls had Curse, which sounds like a dangerous status effect, so you would do your best to avoid it. (And you should, since it one shots you and halves your hit points permanently.)

    My idea for a good status effect is one that applies an effect that is unique to the game via mechanics and otherwise make it a danger to deal with. As long as you make a status effect meaningful to the story and make its effects unique to the game and its themes, you are good to go.
     
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  16. HumanNinjaToo

    HumanNinjaToo The Cheerful Pessimist Veteran

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    I think it depends on the situation. If you're talking about the possibility of having a whole bunch able to come into play in a single battle, then I think it could be overwhelming to keep track of. I do believe that there are a whole bunch of staple status effects you can get away with, such as: ATK up, DEF up, SPD up, MAG down, etc. Most players are used to seeing all of those, so as long as they are easily identifiable, I don't think they would necessarily add convolution to the system.

    However, when you are adding a lot of brand new states, that are probably unique to the game they exist in, then having too many could become confusing if they are thrown at the player all in one battle (even if they've been introduced over time). I think a lot of it will have to do with how things are displayed in the battle though too. Some people are used to playing MMOs (which generally have dozens of states to manage, many of which are unique to characters/classes), so they probably would not have a big issue seeing a whole bunch of state icons surrounding their characters.

    Speaking of MMOs, I like how many of them are now using visual clues on the characters to alert the player of states in addition to the traditional icons hovering around the screen. So if you feel you need a lot of states, coming up with some nice visuals may help to keep a player from focusing too much on a row of icons under/above each character.
     
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