JosephSeraph

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When developing your gameplay systems and entities, Limit Breaks are an interesting way of sculpting their individual personalities while adding interesting gameplay situations. Similarly to passive or unique skills in that they help shape what could otherwise be a character that's similar to others of the same role, a single mechanic can allow you to set characters apart.

So, what's your approach to Limit Break-esque abilities? And what are some examples where you feel it's well done or poorly executed?

Personally, I feel that games with a shared limit gauge, like Riviera, offer an interesting tactical layer in forcing you to choose which character to use it with. In that game, you can even break the limit gauge - disabling it from being used again in the current battle. Final Fantasy X's Overdrive system has a customizable gauge, which is totally unbalanced: You're presented with over 20 gauge fill triggers through the course of the game and they are not by any means equal. So while it means you can unlock a new gauge type far into the game, it may prove strictly inferior to all the others. While I don't think it's particularly genius or carefully crafted design, the challenge of analysing numerical vs. circumstantial factors to pick which gauge style is best for the party is fun in itself, and proves that unbalanced design can be a goal. Valkyrie Profile's flashy finishing moves require a successful combo before pulling them off. It's a rather easy feat provided you have equipment with good combo multipliers, as well as half-decent timing. It's very satisfying to pull these skills off, but it's so easy to do that they have to rely on a cooldown rather than mechanical skill to keep you from spamming it every turn -- that I feel is a design flaw.
 

TheoAllen

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I don't use a limit break, but if I do, I would do it like Granblue Fantasy. LB would be the main source of your damage. So, your objective is to survive until the next full gauge, while also trying to deliver some damage in between.
 

LordOfPotatos

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I find the perfect way to handle the limit gauge is just like the actual limit break, make it unique to the character.

like you said, FFX's overdrive modes are extremely unbalanced, but they do make for interesting dynamics if you fix said balance issues.

for example a healer might simply get limit gauge as he heals or as friends get KOd.
a defender might get it as the party takes damage while an attacker gets it as he deals damage.
some more specific ones are also possible, such as a character that rapidly fills it by being near death and has no other means of doing so.

as for the actual moves I'd say they're better when they're as unique as possible, although one that's a simple nuke is always fine.

since they're the character's ultimate move it's good to just make it an extreme version of what that character does.
like reviing everyone at once with full health, or granting the party 10 buffs at once, or making the party invulnerble for a while.
 

Tai_MT

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I've never had much enjoyment out of using Limit Breaks. They tend to just be "you pile on a ton of damage all at once" and nothing else. They tend to be sort of boring. A damage spike from the player? Eh... I'll do like every other player in the history of the world and just save my Limit Break for bosses and that's it.

With that in mind, I wanted to utilize TP in my game (since it exists), so I opted to turn the entire system on its head.

TP isn't carried over between fights. It resets every combat. So, it's only useful for "longer" fights. Or... you can equip things that "preserve TP" at the cost of being about 20% less effective as anything else of similar Tier.

On top of that, each "Limit Break" has a fairly unique function.

Likewise, I've designed some bosses to punish "Turn 1 usage" of Limit Breaks. If the boss takes spike damage within 1-3 turns, it'll heal it right up.

The idea is that the Limit Breaks are to be used "right time, right place" and not as an "I Win" button.
 

MarxMayhem

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I, too, like the idea of a shared Limit Gauge (I'm doing this for my game too). Having a shared resource makes it feel that everyone is contributing to better options as combat wages on. I do need to mention that my game offers no options to reduce consumption or increase gauge points.

Party members in my game have 2 sets of "Limit Break" skills- one based on the character themselves, and one based on their class. Class change is also a feature of my game, so customization is encouraged.

Class-based "Limit Break" skills are simply more convenient versions of class skills. They have no cooldown, but have built-in limits that discourages spamming the weaker skills.

I'd explain "character-based", but I think it's self-explanatory enough. XD
 

freakytapir

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Likewise, I've designed some bosses to punish "Turn 1 usage" of Limit Breaks. If the boss takes spike damage within 1-3 turns, it'll heal it right up.
So your response to the players taking the logical course of action is to punish them?
That sounds like a horrible player experience, and reminds me of some really vindictive D&D DM's I had the displeasure of gaming with.
If a small damage spike destroys your boss, then your boss is designed wrong.
That's where phases in a boss battle are a good thing. You unloaded your limit breaks on the boss right away? Great, now he enters his phase two faster without having softballed his mechanics in phase one, where you could learn them.
Woops he spawned some adds, would have been nice if you had your limit break now.
His countdown to doom started? Well, a nice limit break would have worked here.
All of these sound better to me than just negating the player's choice to use his limit break.

Then again, this also makes one wonder, should limit breaks be able to be charged multiple times in one boss encounter? Do I want a limit break once every twenty combats? Every Twenty Turns? Every Ten?

If I did Limit breaks in my game, I would either make them Party Wide, but dependent on who uses them. So if the healer limit breaks, the entire party gets full healed and Rezzed, the tank does it? Damage immunity for one turn. The DPS? Well, that's when the damage numbers fly.
Or, I would make them character/class specific, but the charging also character/class specific.

But there's a point where we're stepping on TP's toes with that one.
If my TP charges in a combat, and my Limit Break gauge does too, what separates them? Why not just make the Limit Break the '100 TP skill'?

Just food for thought.
 

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@freakytapir

Please note the usage of the word "Some". That means, "not most" and "not all". It means "less than half" at the very most.

Not every boss "punishes" this behavior. The other aspect which you seem to have glossed over is that utilizing this strategy would require that you kill the boss BEFORE it has the chance to heal up. It's a valid and viable tactic, even with the punishment... provided you can commit to and execute the strategy of "kill the boss very quickly".

With that being said...

The point of the "Limit Break" in my game is the same point as everything else. Right time, right place. Strategy in combat is paramount. It is the driving force of how combat is meant to be executed and how players will retain "engagement". I can't just let them "steamroll" every single boss as their "Strategy" because it kills engagement from the player. This is why my stats are heavily regulated, why level ups don't grant power, why there's no dedicated healer, why being able to retain charge on limit breaks gives you 20% weaker equipment, etcetera. All design decisions are intended to bring up player engagement rather than a "netflix and chill" attitude.

If my boss punishes Turn 1 usage of your Limit Break, that doesn't mean it punishes Turn 2 usage of it. Or turn 3. The player is taught "be cautious" with how they utilize their resources. Behavior that makes the player complacent is punished. This is the ONLY behavior I punish in my game. It isn't even punished "Harshly" either. I could have it result in a Game Over instead of "a setback", but I choose "a setback" instead.

I even have bosses that punish "typical elemental usage". A "Revenge" system. Hit the Fire Elemental with a water attack and it hits you back with a Party Wide "Steam Cloud" that burns everyone in the party and does slightly more damage than their attacks normally would have. The water attacks are absolutely the quickest way to kill the Fire Elemental, but you'll be hit with this cloud on each usage, so if you're not prepared for it, you can die. Every boss has one of these mechanics. They exist so that players can't just go, "Oh, it's fire, use water on it". They would instead need to think, "Ah, fire boss, I should probably use Earth on it instead, so I don't get hit with the Revenge".

But, that's just how I roll. I punish complacency and expect players to be engaged with the game.

If I didn't punish the Limit Break, I'd basically just have to turn the boss into a "HP Sponge" to account for it... you know... like everyone on these forums is keen to do. Even "creating adds" is more of that "HP Sponge" thing. Especially since most RPG's also include several AOE attacks that can one-shot the adds (which renders them pointless).

Put simply, I prefer more strategy to "more HP".
 

freakytapir

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@freakytapir

Please note the usage of the word "Some". That means, "not most" and "not all". It means "less than half" at the very most.

Not every boss "punishes" this behavior. The other aspect which you seem to have glossed over is that utilizing this strategy would require that you kill the boss BEFORE it has the chance to heal up. It's a valid and viable tactic, even with the punishment... provided you can commit to and execute the strategy of "kill the boss very quickly".

With that being said...

The point of the "Limit Break" in my game is the same point as everything else. Right time, right place. Strategy in combat is paramount. It is the driving force of how combat is meant to be executed and how players will retain "engagement". I can't just let them "steamroll" every single boss as their "Strategy" because it kills engagement from the player. This is why my stats are heavily regulated, why level ups don't grant power, why there's no dedicated healer, why being able to retain charge on limit breaks gives you 20% weaker equipment, etcetera. All design decisions are intended to bring up player engagement rather than a "netflix and chill" attitude.

If my boss punishes Turn 1 usage of your Limit Break, that doesn't mean it punishes Turn 2 usage of it. Or turn 3. The player is taught "be cautious" with how they utilize their resources. Behavior that makes the player complacent is punished. This is the ONLY behavior I punish in my game. It isn't even punished "Harshly" either. I could have it result in a Game Over instead of "a setback", but I choose "a setback" instead.

I even have bosses that punish "typical elemental usage". A "Revenge" system. Hit the Fire Elemental with a water attack and it hits you back with a Party Wide "Steam Cloud" that burns everyone in the party and does slightly more damage than their attacks normally would have. The water attacks are absolutely the quickest way to kill the Fire Elemental, but you'll be hit with this cloud on each usage, so if you're not prepared for it, you can die. Every boss has one of these mechanics. They exist so that players can't just go, "Oh, it's fire, use water on it". They would instead need to think, "Ah, fire boss, I should probably use Earth on it instead, so I don't get hit with the Revenge".

But, that's just how I roll. I punish complacency and expect players to be engaged with the game.

If I didn't punish the Limit Break, I'd basically just have to turn the boss into a "HP Sponge" to account for it... you know... like everyone on these forums is keen to do. Even "creating adds" is more of that "HP Sponge" thing. Especially since most RPG's also include several AOE attacks that can one-shot the adds (which renders them pointless).

Put simply, I prefer more strategy to "more HP".

I see where you are coming from, but all I see is a designer vs player mentality.

Now, to go to your fire vs water example.
Is this telegraphed?
Did the players encounter a weaker version of the fire elemental that showed them this was a bad idea?
Or did you just spring it on them, just for this boss, with Water working fine on all other fire elementals?

Another adage to your 'some bosses only punish turn one use of limit breaks but not turn two usage.' How am I as a player supposed to know this? I feel like a lot of times in your games, I would be making decisions blind, not getting it right, and just reloading if I get it wrong.

Additional point; Yes if the adds die in one AoE, then they were useless. That's why you make the adds take multiple hits to kill. You also account for the adds in the boss HP allotment. One 10.000 HP boss, or an 8.000 HP boss with two 2.000 HP adds for example.


Now, to answer the more HP vs More strategy point, I believe a boss needs some HP for strategy to unfold. A battle over in five rounds didn't require much strategy.
A boss needs time to teach you its mechanics, test you on them, and ultimately try to kill you with them.
I always assume a player reaches a boss at full power. I want him to not die in one ultimate attack, but a spiral of death as he makes wrong decision after wrong decision.
Now, that being said, a boss should die once the player has shown he 'got' the boss. No need to make him repeat the same routine ten times.

And one final point, the boss healing is turning him into a HP sponge. A boss with 12.000 HP and a 10.000 HP one that heals for 2.000 are the same.
 

Tai_MT

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I see where you are coming from, but all I see is a designer vs player mentality.

Now, to go to your fire vs water example.
Is this telegraphed?

In that battle? No. In the game? Yes. However, it relies on the player doing things the player should be doing.

Namely, talking to NPC's. There is one fairly early on that mentions the "Revenge" mechanic. Let me see if I can find the text for you.

"Strong monsters don't like it when you exploit their weaknesses and will hit you hard when you try to do so."

From that point, the player will see it in action at some point, and note that "all bosses have this mechanic".

The mechanic itself isn't meant to cause a "Game Over". It's meant to hinder you for a few turns and teach you "don't do that" or "be prepared if you do it".

The initial enemies you'll run across that do this are either a Plant or a Spider (story choice determines this boss). The Plant does "Foul Bile". It hits everyone and only inflicts Level 1 and Level 2 Poison on them. No damage. It does this if you hit it with Fire. The spider does "Maul". Hits one character for a good amount of damage and inflicts Level 1 and Level 2 Poison on them. Only happens if hit with Fire.

These are "safe bosses" to help ease the player into the mechanic.

"Player Prep" is something that is encouraged across all elements of my game. If you go in unprepared, you'll die. That simple.

As a dev, I respect the player and don't treat them like a brainless child who needs coddled. I signpost everything as I can and then pull the Training Wheels off and expect the player to figure things out. I expect them to get hit with stuff and then figure it out.

Did the players encounter a weaker version of the fire elemental that showed them this was a bad idea?
Or did you just spring it on them, just for this boss, with Water working fine on all other fire elementals?

Water works fine on all Fire elementals, yes. Fire works fine on all bugs and plants too. It's just the bosses that are different.

Players are warned the mechanic exists... will very likely accidently trigger it on one of the early bosses, see the effect, and make a note of how the mechanic works. When hit with the Revenge attack, players are even told, "X seeks Revenge!".

Another adage to your 'some bosses only punish turn one use of limit breaks but not turn two usage.' How am I as a player supposed to know this? I feel like a lot of times in your games, I would be making decisions blind, not getting it right, and just reloading if I get it wrong.

Players who go into my game expecting me to tell them exactly how to win the fight on their first encounter of it are going to have a bad time. Might just not be a game for you. If you feel the need to reload just because your Turn 1 Limit Break was wasted... Well, that says more about you than it says about me. Likewise, if you could've only won because you blew your Limit Breaks on the first turn... you're not a very good player and haven't learned anything in the game.

The player is meant to experiment, explore, figure things out. They get hints along the way and nothing more.

Skilled players who have learned, have experimented, have explored... will have a decently easy time with the game. Those that didn't do any of these things... gonna have a bad time.

But, if you're looking for a "strategy" involving these... All you'd really have to do is use one Limit Break and if it isn't healed off in 1-3 turns, you blow the rest of them. The way the mechanic works is "if you've drained a specific threshold of health by X turn, use Full Heal on boss". If you don't reach the threshold, even despite using the Limit Breaks... still safe. Limit Break isn't wasted. It's up to the player to determine where and when and why they use their resources.

Players are absolutely thrown curve balls now and again (or as often as I can, really). Strategy isn't about knowing what's coming and so it doesn't affect you. Strategy is figuring out the counter to something that hits you so it doesn't affect you AGAIN.

I'm not making some "easy mode" game where I advertise all the mechanics up front before every fight so that you'll beat everything on your first run. You're going to see the Game Over screen if you keep failing counter things. Characters are designed to die in about 4 to 5 hits. You've got wiggle room to figure things out. If you can't figure it out by the time you've been hit 5 times... that's a "you" problem.

If you're making an argument for Limit Breaks to trivialize boss encounters... I guess I'm not sure why you'd want that except to "easy mode" the game and "destroy mechanics".

I mean... hell... I did that crap in Borderlands 3. Shotgun spec where every pellet had a chance to inflict a Critical... on Critical hit, there was a chance I'd get my clip automatically refilled. Shotgun with 15 pellets, crit chance of about 50%, never needed to reload... fire endlessly... but my rounds weren't shotgun pellets... they were remote mines. Pile all the remote mines onto every boss possible... then detonate them all at once... end the boss instantly and NEVER see it's "phase" mechanics. Because... seriously... screw your phase mechanics. If I can get an easy win, I'm going to do that.

Additional point; Yes if the adds die in one AoE, then they were useless. That's why you make the adds take multiple hits to kill. You also account for the adds in the boss HP allotment. One 10.000 HP boss, or an 8.000 HP boss with two 2.000 HP adds for example.

So then you're really just increasing the damage output of the boss instead? Instead of the boss hitting you once, it's effectively hitting you 3 times? You focus down the adds to reduce amount of incoming damage and then attack the boss?

I guess I fail to see why "Adds" is anything useful in a boss fight unless they add strategy. You could effectively just give the boss 10,000 HP and just make it hit 3x as hard for a few turns for the same effect. Or, just AOE to simulate "spreading damage around".

If the player can expend a few hits to wipe out the adds in the next turn or two, they don't really add much, especially if they're not doing a lot of damage, can be neutralized with states, or any other number of methods. Likewise, adds tend to be a "minimal threat", so nobody sane is going to blow a Limit Break on the adds when they can slaughter the boss with it and mop up the adds later.

Now, if your adds were HEALING the boss... or SHIELDING the boss... you've got something there. But, that's sort of the same thing as "Hit Sponge". It might be executed poorly enough to annoy players, or could be done in an interesting way so players have to employ strategies to destroy it.

Now, to answer the more HP vs More strategy point, I believe a boss needs some HP for strategy to unfold. A battle over in five rounds didn't require much strategy.

It does and it doesn't. You simply need to employ measures to make combat take longer. Bosses can employ "stalling tactics" as an example. If your states are properly dangerous, you could full poison an entire party and force the player to remove the state before beginning the attack again. If curing of this state isn't AOE and can only be done 1 at a time, then you must spend actions removing it before resuming the attack.

No need for high HP if you have stalling tactics. The reason most people employ "Hit Sponges", is because they don't really know how to employ that "lateral thinking". They just see, "If you have to hit it more times, you get to see the mechanics" and nothing else. The end goal is "The player needs to see all the mechanics". The main way of getting there is "it needs to last enough rounds". How you get enough rounds can be done in several ways and not just "hit the boss more times".

A boss needs time to teach you its mechanics, test you on them, and ultimately try to kill you with them.
I always assume a player reaches a boss at full power. I want him to not die in one ultimate attack, but a spiral of death as he makes wrong decision after wrong decision.

I don't disagree. Do you think my "Revenge Mechanics" are boss designs are "kill you in one hit"? They should only kill a player who extraordinarily bad at the game. Namely, they keep making mistakes. They don't do what they're supposed to. Revenge kills you if you are already on the ropes. Otherwise, the most it might do is "stall you". Force you to spend some actions healing up, or some actions removing states. It kills you if you're mismanaging your play.

The boss needing time to "teach you it's mechanics" is why I heavily regulate the amount of power my players have and why some bosses will outright remove damage you've done with a Limit Break. What sense does it make if I let you build up the Limit Break on weak battles outside the boss and then allow you to use that Limit Break to effectively destroy the boss? What sense does it make to design every single boss in the game around the player doing EXACTLY that and then have to buff their HP in order to prevent "turn 1 kills"? This is really weird thinking and I don't know why devs engage in it. Devs creating a problem and then creating a solution to that problem. Just remove the problem!

The 20% weaker equipment is also how I handle it. If players want to "steamroll" the boss, they're going to be eating more damage OVERALL from ALL SOURCES for that privilege. They're going to be doing less damage OVERALL as a result of that choice.

That's on top of the odd boss here or there that will simply heal away your Limit Breaks if you blow them on the first couple turns of combat. Turn 1 Limit Break Dumps are viable for most of the game... except on those bosses where it isn't. When it isn't... you now how to THINK about how to beat the boss. Oh noes... I'm punishing a player by saying, "You actually need to think in this fight, and it's going to hurt you because you've been doing your best to NEVER THINK during the entire game!".

That's my two cents on it, anyway. I don't want any one strategy to work 100% of the time. Because it detracts from the behavior I want from my players. If I teach you that X strategy works... I'm going to have bosses where it DOESN'T work and in fact uses that strategy AGAINST YOU. Keep you on your toes. Keep you from getting complacent.

As for teaching...

I don't approach boss design that way. The monsters you fight BEFORE the boss should teach you the mechanics you need to know to beat the boss. Employing what you've learned before should grant you baseline survivability in the boss fight. The boss should then test you on what you've learned and then employ one or two NEW mechanics on top of what you've learned so that it is a proper test.

Baseline monsters are your Teachers, Bosses are the Tests at the end. I don't design bosses where all their mechanics are brand new so you need to see them all. You need to see the two new mechanics and nothing more. The rest of the mechanics are just a test on stuff you SHOULD HAVE already learned by getting this far. So, if you die... it's because you didn't learn the mechanics the baseline monsters were teaching you.

Now, that being said, a boss should die once the player has shown he 'got' the boss. No need to make him repeat the same routine ten times.

And one final point, the boss healing is turning him into a HP sponge. A boss with 12.000 HP and a 10.000 HP one that heals for 2.000 are the same.

I agree. My biggest issue with Hollow Knight and games like it is this very thing. "I figured out the boss pattern 12 hits ago... why do I still hafta land 70 more hits to win?" The danger is just in falling asleep at the wheel, rather than it being any challenge. Makes the gameplay very... BORING. Makes bosses FRUSTRATING.

I have the same issue with Raids in MMOs. If I can demonstrate my proficiency in this fight up to a specific degree, why am I not granted all the loot it has to offer? Why must I keep coming back every single week like a robot to get it? No. I've beat it once, without taking an avoidable hit... that should be enough to grant me all the loot at once.
 

freakytapir

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So then you're really just increasing the damage output of the boss instead? Instead of the boss hitting you once, it's effectively hitting you 3 times? You focus down the adds to reduce amount of incoming damage and then attack the boss?

I guess I fail to see why "Adds" is anything useful in a boss fight unless they add strategy. You could effectively just give the boss 10,000 HP and just make it hit 3x as hard for a few turns for the same effect. Or, just AOE to simulate "spreading damage around".

If the player can expend a few hits to wipe out the adds in the next turn or two, they don't really add much, especially if they're not doing a lot of damage, can be neutralized with states, or any other number of methods. Likewise, adds tend to be a "minimal threat", so nobody sane is going to blow a Limit Break on the adds when they can slaughter the boss with it and mop up the adds later.

Now, if your adds were HEALING the boss... or SHIELDING the boss... you've got something there. But, that's sort of the same thing as "Hit Sponge". It might be executed poorly enough to annoy players, or could be done in an interesting way so players have to employ strategies to destroy it.
I actually agree that adds should do more than just damage.
Now, I wouldn't have them actually heal the boss, that's frustrating, but the most fun uses for adds I find are
  • Debuffing the players
  • Removing debuffs from the boss
  • Start charging an attack that will kill the party
  • Cover for the boss, absorbing negative status effects cast at the boss
  • Buffing the boss if they're not killed in x turns
  • Attacking with different elements than the boss ( The Magma giant has some rock Buddy friends, or made a deal with some ice pixies)
  • Making multiple targets debufs useful
    • Because usually you only debuf strong enemies, which come alone
  • Making the AoE spells useful in a boss encounter.
  • Living batteries for the Boss ( Boss used MP drain on Minion, Beast Devoured Tasty morsel, ...)
  • Or just ammunition for the boss, literal cannon fodder
    • Boss grabs bomb minion throwing it at the player
      • Maybe even more elaborate:
        • Boss eyes Bomb #1
        • Players AoE all bombs down? They all blow for lesser damage, but all at once.
        • Players kill only bomb 1? Crisis averted. For now
  • Speeding up countdown timers (the cultists chanting along to the apocalypse spell, kill the boss to stop the spell)
 

ArcaneEli

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Worst limit break? FF6. Yes, FF6 has a limit break, for EVERY character. Shocking, because I've never seen it happen ever in the X years of playing the game.

FF6 is triggered by being at 1/16? HP and has a chance to occur after something. I think a basic attack? But it's so restrictive, only mentioned by one NPC in the first town and never happens that I didn't know it was a thing for well over a decade.

FF8 limit break is easily triggered, by being at critical HP you can just "pass" your turn to someone else, and have them pass it back to try and RNG a limit break which replaces your basic attack and lets you know when it's available. So the goal is keep the MC at critical HP and spam limit breaks since passing doesn't take any time or turn.
 

NamEtag

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Final Fantasy Record Keeper goes real in depth with this. With only 2 normal abilities and a maximum of 10 limit breaks, the bulk of a character's role is dictated by what they spend their LB gauge on. Buffs, healing, Setup, gimmick remover, etc.
 

freakytapir

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FF8 limit break is easily triggered, by being at critical HP you can just "pass" your turn to someone else, and have them pass it back to try and RNG a limit break which replaces your basic attack and lets you know when it's available. So the goal is keep the MC at critical HP and spam limit breaks since passing doesn't take any time or turn.

The easy solution was to play the card game, get Quake or Curaga, and junction it to HP.
You were at critical HP with the enemy still needing 10 more hits to kill you.
3.000 HP on disk one? Easy.
 

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I admit I am new to limit breaks. I finally have begun implementing them after finding a variable-based way to fill the hidden limit gauge. Essentially, it fills after using each of my characters once or so, but it still fills with each action regardless. My game has 8 to 10 characters (the number is not yet decided right now), and they can all be switched in and out of battle at any time, so I wanted to find a way to encourage the player to use them all - thus my limit break system was born.

I actually like FFX's overdrive system, though it is definitely imbalanced. Dancer is clearly suited to Lulu, but comrade is better overall. If dancer filled like half the overdrive gauge per evade it might actually be useful. But again, balance issues.
 

KawaiiKid

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I personally really dislike limit break mechanics. Having them in your game makes you have to balance around them 100% of the time. You must assume as a designer that your players will have their limit break or charge abilities for every boss fight, and you must balance around this. If they go into the fight without it, it will be really hard or impossible for them, but if you balance around NOT having the limit break up, it will be so easy for the player to beat if they DO have it up that it trivializes the fun out of the encounter. You're screwed either way. IMO limit breaks are and always have been a horrible idea.
 

FarOutFighter

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I personally really dislike limit break mechanics. Having them in your game makes you have to balance around them 100% of the time. You must assume as a designer that your players will have their limit break or charge abilities for every boss fight, and you must balance around this. If they go into the fight without it, it will be really hard or impossible for them, but if you balance around NOT having the limit break up, it will be so easy for the player to beat if they DO have it up that it trivializes the fun out of the encounter. You're screwed either way. IMO limit breaks are and always have been a horrible idea.
I think the answer is making the limit breaks more unique rather than super powerful. I get what you mean, though.
 

Willibab

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I liked FF7's limit system a lot, it never felt like this super move you waited on but rather a decent move you could use once in awhile. They also had pretty unique effects.

I'm thinking of having limits that empowers the characters playstyle.

Example: Elementalist: Her elemental spells are more powerful against targets that are inflicted by elemental states.

So if you inflict wet with a water spell, you are guaranteed to critically hit it if you use a lightning spell. Or have a higher chance to freeze it with ice spells etc...

A limit break could be that the next spell that has a chance to inflict an elemental state is guaranteed to do so (usually 15%.).
 

CraneSoft

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I don't think of limit breaks as a damage source, but rather a mechanic whose purpose are to shorten battles, in other words, reduce the number of turns required to finish a battle.
If a battle is supposed to last 10 turns, and one use of a limit break can cut it by 2, don't make it so it's possible to use 4 of them on turn 1.

There is a reason why a shared limit gauge is a better approach than individual ones as they give the developer much better control in managing the pacing of a battle without having to balance their battles around players entering battle with entire party at full limit gauges. You can still give each character their own LBs, just don't allow them to be used together as it is too powerful a tool to be used multiple times in quick succession.
 

freakytapir

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I don't think of limit breaks as a damage source, but rather a mechanic whose purpose are to shorten battles, in other words, reduce the number of turns required to finish a battle.
If a battle is supposed to last 10 turns, and one use of a limit break can cut it by 2, don't make it so it's possible to use 4 of them on turn 1.

There is a reason why a shared limit gauge is a better approach than individual ones as they give the developer much better control in managing the pacing of a battle without having to balance their battles around players entering battle with entire party at full limit gauges. You can still give each character their own LBs, just don't allow them to be used together as it is too powerful a tool to be used multiple times in quick succession.
I wholly agree on a party based limit break;

But if you need to have individual ones, just design with them in mind.
In your hypothetical scenario, where the use of a single limit break shortens the battle by two turns, then maybe design the boss battle to take 10 turns when the limit breaks are used.

Or incorporate them into the encounter design as the high damage, high cooldown skills they are.
Maybe the player needs a limit break somewhere halfway the fight.
"Blew all your LB's at the start did you? Have fun going into my 'slay the add or die' phase without your LB."
Have the judicial use of LB's be part of the battle, instead of an 'I win' Button.

Want your player to not throw them out willy nilly? Even easier solution: Set the LB gauge to 0 at the start of the battle, and have it be filled by the end.
Provide cathartic release when that limit break finally fills up. ( Best done with a party based guage, I feel).

Splitting the batle into distinct phases, where damage does not carry over between phases might also help this. (So, 1000 HP first form, 750 HP second form and 1250 HP third form instead of one boss with 3000 HP). The player still gets to see his big damage number, but a lot of 'overflow' is wasted.

Another devious trick that might bleed into 'Designer vs Player' nastiness is to have the boss use a supermove as a reaction/counterattack when crossing certain HP tresholds (So he novas at 75, 50 and 25 % HP, wether it's his turn or not). Limit break the boss down? Great, eat three novas in a row. I don't really advocate this one, because of the 'gotcha' factor, but it is an option.
 

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