Limited Ability Slots vs All Known Abilities?

LordOfPotatos

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being trying to decide all day, is it better to have limited slots to juggle (like smt/persona or pokemon) or to let each character access everything they have like most RPGs?

for context I'm making a dungeon crawler with lots of characters to collect.
 

Nenen

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'Better' is such a relative term. It depends on what you want your game to be like.

Though with the concept of collecting a lot of characters, it seems smart to limit the amounts of abilities each character can equip/have so you (meaning both as Developer and any Players) can manage them better.

Plus it can add the concept of preparing for your next fight by picking which abilities to have ready.

EDIT:
Though depending on how many characters you juggle through, having to pick their abilities as well might become a headache for players...
 

Frostorm

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Lately, I've been debating this for my project as well. For context, actors will start w/ ~2 skills at lv1 but will slowly gain more, up to ~30 skills by lv50. I'm thinking of making it so they gain skill slots as they level up throughout the game, up to about 15 or 18 slots by end-game. That figure isn't final though. In fact, I've been thinking...with that many slots, is there's even a point to having skill slots at all?
 

TheoAllen

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Personally, I feel it fair to have a limited slot when we know what is up ahead.

For example, in a stage or mission-based game, you are only allowed to bring several weapons and abilities. And let you retry and experiment with what you have. In RPG, where something lies ahead is unknown, I prefer to bring anything I can.

So, if your dungeon crawlers are like, "stage select", and you know what lies ahead (or at least give a hint), then I probably won't mind the limited ability slot.
 

Nenen

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Personally, I feel it fair to have a limited slot when we know what is up ahead.
That's essentially the point with this sort of system. Preparation.
Otherwise it can feel needlessly constricting.

My recent playthrough of Dragon's Dogma has shown me a bit of that annoying side, as you can only change skills at certain locations, (though I do like their idea of changeable classes)
In that game though, you're only managing two characters. With the rest being less changeable/controllable.
 

AphoticAmaranth

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Imo, the only situation when I would prefer limited ability slots over all known abilities is when the list of all known abilities becomes too long to scroll through.
 

Frostorm

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Imo, the only situation when I would prefer limited ability slots over all known abilities is when the list of all known abilities becomes too long to scroll through.
How many is too many though? Roughly speaking, ofc.
 

AphoticAmaranth

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How many is too many though? Roughly speaking, ofc.

It would also depend on the layout of the skill selection window and the pacing of the game (is it a fast-paced ATB which requires quick decision making, or a turn-based game that requires more strategic thinking?), but generally I'd say about 20?

You could also shorten the list by subdividing your skills into different categories.
 

Milennin

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Limited slots work if it lets you decide between different styles of gameplay, with none of the available options being unviable. But, if by limited, you mean like having to choose between a fire, water and earth spell and then get screwed in the next area if you picked wrong, then no. In that case, just have characters know everything.
 

Frostorm

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Hmm...after much consideration, I may just get rid of skill slots after all. Cuz the player won't have ~30 skills until very late game. By then, the player ought to be familiar enough that it's not an issue, or at least I hope so lol.
 

Tiamat-86

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nobody going to bring up the potential with slot tiers?
actor A could have 5 weapon skill slots, 3 magic atk slots and 3 support ability slots.
while actor B could have 2weapon, 3m.atk and 6 support abilities.

skill slots good when just way to many skills to scroll through.
just a way to break a class into "build an archetype"
or when everyone has same skill pool and have it as sandbox class builds.
 
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Frostorm

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nobody going to bring up the potential with slot tiers?
actor A could have 5 weapon skill slots, 3 magic atk slots and 3 support ability slots.
while actor B could have 2weapon, 3m.atk and 6 support abilities.

skill slots good when just way to many skills to scroll through.
just a way to break a class into "build an archetype"
or when everyone has same skill pool and have it as sandbox class builds.

That's my situation, basically. My project features a "blank slate" protagonist w/ a classless system that lets you mix and match all sorts of different spell/skill types.

But in regards to slot tiers...that reminds me of an RPG I was playing last night: Fell Seal. It gives you a single slot for "Counters" and 4 "Passive" slots, but the active abilities are bundled w/ the chosen class/subclass.
 

LordOfPotatos

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I think I have reached a conclusion: skill slots are awesome for high customization games but really bad for keeping characters distinct.

But I also came up with a way to have both: a new kind of equip called Cards (for now).
Cards grant 1 or 2 abilities and each character can equip at least 2, plus more depending on the character and some equipment that grants more Card slots.

So each character has both it's own pool of permanent abilities and a set of customized abilities you can play with. Literally have my cake and eat it too.

Puzzle solved, happy chemicals achieved, game design upgraded. Feels Good Man.
 

Nenen

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I think I have reached a conclusion: skill slots are awesome for high customization games but really bad for keeping characters distinct.
Actually, Now that I think about it. Skill slots can be used to make a customizable class system.
This is what Dragon's Dogma was probably going for actually.
You could have Class-Specific Skills that they can choose from, so the distinction between Characters still applies without loosing out on the customization.

Though honestly I prefer the idea of using a limited skill slots system for some kind of battle preparation system. But that's just me feeling like that might be cool.
 

Frostorm

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I had a change of heart...I've decided to revisit this feature but with Skill Slot Tiers this time. I divided skills into the following "tiers": (max slots in parenthesis)
  • Bonus Actions (5)
  • Main Actions (5)
  • Passives (5)
  • Aura (1)
  • Counter (1)
  • Summon (1)
The total number of slots still starts at 3 slots and slowly grows to a max of 18 slots by end-game. Hopefully, this isn't too few/many slots lol.
 

Tiamat-86

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5 passives? be carful dont make game breaking combos
 

Sword_of_Dusk

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That seems like a lot of total slots to manage, not to mention giving players so many options may lead to easy game breakers. You may want to consider limiting how many slots there are. Final Fantasy Tactics uses a similar kind of thing, but there's only five slots: two Action Ability slots, and one each for Reaction, Support, and Movement Abilities. It's easy to manage, and still allows for unit uniqueness.
 

Frostorm

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5 passives? be carful dont make game breaking combos
That's down from having 15 passives which is how I did before using skill slots lol.

Well, w/ a party size of 3, there are only 3 units to manage. That's why I try to offer deeper character customization. But I might reduce the slots nonetheless, like so:
  • Bonus Actions (4)
  • Main Actions (4)
  • Passives (4)
  • Aura (1)
  • Counter (1)
  • Summon (1)
So that'd be 15 total instead of 18. But ofc, the player still starts w/ far fewer slots and must work up to max.
 

FirestormNeos

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This thread reminds me of a post on this website someone made awhile ago which had this really neat infograph-- with open-world sandbox games on the top-left end of a diagonal spectrum, and puzzle games on the bottom-right --that measured difficulty on the X-axis and freedom/number of possible solutions on the Y-axis.

Sounds to me like the Limited Ability Slots would work better for an easier, open-ended game vs. All Known Abilities would be better suited to a game of challenging puzzles.
 

rpgLord69

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I'm still traumatized having to part with some of my good abilities in Persona 4 and Persona 5. Developers: Don't do that. I mean, you can put a limited number of abilities so that you can't use every possible ability, but (in the context of Persona) 8 is too small an amount.
 

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