Keeping Magic and Skills Relevant

kirbwarrior

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Edit: I am still debating how/if I want a spell that hits all. I was thinking either Void hits all or the Spell 2 hits all.
Most of what I've been saying was in regards to how specific the skills are. Single target elemental damage with a side effect. There are tons of ways to completely separate things even within an element;
Single target damage
Multi target damage -> Further broken down into area of effect, random targets, nearest targets, etc
Enemy party damage
All hit damage (useful if your party can be immune... or absorb it)

And further modifiers;
Damage over time
Multiple Hit
States or debuffs on targets
States or buffs on user and/or party
Removing states or de/buffs
Setting up Counters/Reflecting
Free (such as Attack)
Absurdly expensive
Downsides, such as hurting self, debuffing self, going Berserk, etc

That's just damage. And hp damage at that. Pick and choose from there and you have too many skills for the player to choose from XD
 

tofuman

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There's also the Total War Warhammer route of miscast: Water II is just more powerful in everyway, but there's a chance it misfires, or does damage to the caster
 

overlordmikey

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Okay I think I got down what I want. I decided not to go with the two ailments per-skill type as to not over complicate things.

Hobbled -> Dusted -> Soaked -> Frozen -> Melted -> Hobbled / Voided

All these last between 2~3 turns. Only one of these can be on a target at a time.
Note: Most of these only affect a stat slightly as opposed to possible dedicated moves of that type, but a little goes a long way.

Hobbled is the Physical Skill effect. It lowers Agility and boosts Damage from incoming Earth Attacks.

Dusted is the Earth Skill effect. It lowers Hit Rate and boosts Damage from incoming Water Attacks.

Soaked is the Water Skill effect. It lowers Attack and boosts Damage from incoming Ice attacks.

Frozen is the Ice Skill effect. It lowers M.Attack and boosts Damage from incoming Fire attacks.

Melted is the Fire Skill effect. It lowers Luck and boosts Damage from incoming Physical Attacks.

Voided is the Void Skill effect. It doesn't make the enemy weak against any other Damage type. When an enemy is Voided they recover less HP and MP and are more likely to be affected by other status ailments besides the five above (example: Poison).


The only stats not effected by these are HP, MP, M.Def, and DEF. MDF & DEF is purposely left out because the idea that one of them makes attacks do more damage in general kinda misses the point of the whole "makes one element do more damage" thing I'm going for.

Edit: Still making tweaks to the extra effects of each spell as an individual, but I'm bouncing those about in my head.
 

Tai_MT

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Silly question:

If Water 1 is no longer relevant, why bother leaving it into the game? Why not just replace Water 1 with Water 2? Cuts out clutter in the menus. Removes your need to keep it a relevant skill (especially when most players are just going to use their most powerful attacks anyway and likely aren't ever going to be low enough in MP to ever need to use the weaker attack as a result) too.

You could also just have a scaling formula for Water 1 so you avoid implementing Water 2.

I mean... is there a good design reason to have both Water 1 and Water 2?
 

overlordmikey

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Silly question:

If Water 1 is no longer relevant, why bother leaving it into the game? Why not just replace Water 1 with Water 2? Cuts out clutter in the menus. Removes your need to keep it a relevant skill (especially when most players are just going to use their most powerful attacks anyway and likely aren't ever going to be low enough in MP to ever need to use the weaker attack as a result) too.

You could also just have a scaling formula for Water 1 so you avoid implementing Water 2.

I mean... is there a good design reason to have both Water 1 and Water 2?
Well a lot of RPGs include progressively powerful spells because it makes the player FEEL like they are getting more powerful.
Anyway I'm forgoing progressively more powerful spells in favor of different versions of the same element.
 

Tai_MT

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I understand why some RPG's do it... but at the same time, it makes no sense that those RPG's do that. Especially once you begin analyzing player behavior in terms of those games.

Personally, I simply remove the old spell and replace it with the new one. Keeps things nice and tidy. Keeps me from having a skill list that scrolls. Keeps players in the combat rather than the menu. Gives a feel of progression to see old skills "evolve" into new ones.

"Fire now does Moderate Damage and inflicts Burn Level 2!" Leaves the player wondering when the next upgrade is.

Does it feel better to get 5 Ice Spells or to have a single Ice Spell that "gets better" over time? Does it feel better to have 5 Ice Skills that do different things... or does it feel better to have 1 Ice Skill that can be counted on for a specific thing and gets more powerful over time?

I'm always curious what values players put on choices in games. Or, what they feel is more fun.
 

cthulhusquid

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But trapping the player into losing is my job, as a game creator I am obligated to kill the party. (I'm kidding)
Hey, that's my job! But I'm not kidding, you will die in my games (even though 2 don't have released demos), it's only a matter of time.
 

Basileus

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So my first thought to this was to use damage formulas based on a percent of the actor's stats.

To use healing as an example; potions in Final Fantasy get outclassed quickly and the player doesn't appreciate finding them in chests for long. Gels in the Tales games do not have this problem and players will find an apple gel just as useful at hour 1 as they will at hour 50. This is because potions use flat values while gels use percentage values. A potion that heals 100 HP might be very nice at the start of an FF game, but soon the player will need to find the stronger Hi Potions if they want meaningful healing. A gel that heals 30% of the player's health might only heal 30 HP with 100 starting health, but that same gel will heal for 300 HP later on when the player has 1000 health.

The same thing applies to skills and abilities. Many games have spell damage in a fixed range, possibly with some RNG variance for some bonus damage based on stats. Early spells have low cost and low damage ceiling, while later spells cost more for a higher base damage. Artes in the Tales games deal damage based on a percent of the actor's stats, so the early games abilities remain viable through the end of the game. For example: In Tales of Vesperia, the protagonist starts with an arte called Azure Edge which hits 2 times for a total damage ratio of 250% with 70% of the damage based on his physical attack and 30% based on his magic attack. So if he has 100 of both, then the arte would deal (70 + 30) * 2.5 = 250 before calculating enemy defense. Later in the game when he has 500 of both stats we would get: (350 + 150) * 2.5 = 1250.

A lot of mobile games use a similar method to scale abilities with stat growth so a character's abilities never fall of or lose effectiveness. In Genshin Impact, the protagonist can perform up to 5 normal attacks with ratios of 44.5% > 43.4% > 53.0% > 58.3% > 70.8%. At Lv 1, the MC has 18 base attack, so using their normal attacks would deal 8.01 > 7.81 > 9.54 > 10.49 > 12.74 before calculating defense. At Lv 50, the MC has 125 base attack so the same attacks would now deal 55.62 > 54.25 > 66.25 > 72.87 > 88.5. In addition to boosting stats from more powerful equipment, all abilities can be leveled to improve the ratios. If the player upgrades the MC's normal attack to Lv 10, then the attack ratios become 87.9% > 85.9% > 105% > 115% > 140%. By leveling abilities and obtaining better gear, players can massively increase the damage their characters can do without needing to necessarily replace any abilities.

If you're worried that the Water I -> Water II approach could lead the useless spells cluttering your skill lists, then it might be better to let the player upgrade their spells instead of learning new ones. This could be done by saving up materials, or as quest rewards, or perhaps by using a special rare item. You could also use something like the Tales combo system where weaker abilities need to be chained into stronger ones. I did this in a previous project: I gave the player a Slash I skill and using it caused the skill to be replaced by Slash II the next turn. If the player did not use Slash II, then it would revert to Slash I the turn after, and if they did, then it would be replaced by Slash III which was the strongest version and would revert to Slash I in either case. By using percent values, I would be able to keep all 3 versions of the skill relevant for the entire game so it would never be a waste to open with Slash I and Slash III would always be a satisfying reward for having invested multiple turns.

I think you would be fine with any approach as long as spell/ability damage scales directly from an actor's stats so it can grow as the player party grows. Even without an upgrade system, or a tier/combo system, you can always use resource management to give the player a reason to consider different options.
 

ATT_Turan

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Well a lot of RPGs include progressively powerful spells because it makes the player FEEL like they are getting more powerful.
I would differ and say they do it because of early programming limitations or lack of design experience, that then got carried along the series. If you ignore the traditional JRPG series (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire, etc.), most modern video game RPGs and almost all tabletop RPGs do not do this.

Now, if you want to for the sake of homage, then that's okay, and you don't have any need to try to elevate your skill progression beyond that. But if you want to do something that makes more design and logical sense...ignore the whole progression idea.

1 - Just have one spell that does a given thing and make it scale with your stats. One spell that does water damage, later on learn one that randomly strikes different targets, later one that hits the whole party. Whatever. Make your character progression be about getting more options, not making the one thing you do more powerful.

2 - Just have one spell and have the characters learn later skills that simply upgrade it. One water, fire, lightning attack spell, and when you get to level 20 you have access to Magic Mastery 1, which increases the MP cost and damage of all of those. Etc.
 

kirbwarrior

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I could see a benefit for having skills that do the same thing but "stronger" for sake of feeling stronger. Instead of having multiple skills, have a skill that changes animation and name (such as Water I -> Water II) once you hit a certain level/mag/whathaveyou. You get the benefit of feeling like you are growing and learning as you play, you don't feel like there are useless skills as you go on, and you have less skills to balance/worry about as a developer.

For rpgmaker specifically, I'm not sure how you'd do it in older ones but I think Yanfly has some plugins for dynamically picking animations and I've seen a few that let you change the name of skills, items, etc.
 

freakytapir

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An answer I didn't see in this thread: Cooldowns. Water II is better, but is on a three turn cooldown. So you're casting Water I inbetween to spike with Water II. And then you get Water III on a five turn cooldown.
Now if the player has a few spells like that, Combat might even start to be strategic.
"All right, So if I fire off Fire III now, Water II is off cooldown in two turns, then maybe next turn, Thunder I? But Curaga is off it's ten turn cooldown then, Maybe I should cast that?"
"Whoops, took a stun, so my cooldowns are off sync now, what's the best action now?"

Or the inverse. Water II is only available after two casts of Water I. Like you're building up to the big boom.

Or Combo's (Which have been mentioned, I believe).
"All right, Opening Jab (Learned at Lvl 1) increases the damage of Lunge by 75 %,(Learned at lvl. 5 and that leads into Skewer (Learned at Lvl. 10)"
 

ATT_Turan

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An answer I didn't see in this thread: Cooldowns.
That's actually a pretty cool idea. I still don't love having skill bloat, and a big list of skills that achieve the same effect with only different strengths/cooldowns would annoy me, but this is probably the best solution/justification I've seen.

And some of my complaint could be taken care of by using one of the skill container plugins, so all you see in your initial skill list is Water, then by clicking into that you see Water I/II/III and their strengths and cooldowns.
 

Ghalundra

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Normally I don't use progression spells like that for that exact problem. When I do, I make the higher level spells so inefficient resource wise that your main incentive to use the lower level spells is to not run out in encounters that aren't as threatening.

In my current project, the highest damaging abilities all require conditions to be worth using, where as the lower damaging abilities inflict more status or grant debuffs / buffs.
 

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