Mana Regen & Player Abuse

Frostorm

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If a game offers MP Regen in some form or another, whether it be via equipment, passives, or w/e...how do we address the issue of players leaving a single enemy standing and letting turns pass to regen infinite MP?
 

Pots Talos

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If people want to play that way why stop them?

Its a time investment thing as I see it. I could just finish the battle and use consumables to get my mana/health back at a faster pace but if I want to lounge about inside a battle and see my hp/mp tick up slowly than that's fair too.
 

ZaedAren

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hmm... can always make a battle resource system that is outside the MP/Mana standard (honestly JRPGs need to move away from the standard mana use and replenishment system.).
You can set up a system that kind of works like the following:::
-->Standard attacks can be weak so that you have to mostly rely on skills/abilities, and standard attacks would be used for resource generation.
-->Can have passive skills or whatever that can increase the regeneration from standard attacks.
-->Then make it so that the only way to regenerate this resource is to participate in battle.

Not sure if I was clear with communicating my idea. I have no idea how I would script such. Was kind of thinking along the lines of how Chrono Cross handled its resources alongside some of the systems from tabletop rpgs.
 

caethyril

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Some ideas...

You could add some mechanic(s) to discourage players from taking a long time in battle, e.g. by giving enemies advantages in longer fights:
  • Powerful enemy reinforcements arrive on turn N.
  • Enemies increase in power/defence every turn, or on turn N.
  • Actors have important resources that diminish over time (e.g. food).
  • The water/lava/gas/monster is coming: be quick or be dead! (Probably annoying.)
You could rework, replace, or simply remove the passive regeneration:
  • Disable a battler's regen for N turns whenever they take damage.
  • Reduce regen effectiveness each turn.
  • No passive regen for actors: get mana regen for a few turns only when you drink a mana potion.
  • Replace the passive regen with a skill that restores a set amount per use.
 

Frostorm

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-->Standard attacks can be weak so that you have to mostly rely on skills/abilities, and standard attacks would be used for resource generation.
-->Can have passive skills or whatever that can increase the regeneration from standard attacks.
-->Then make it so that the only way to regenerate this resource is to participate in battle.
That's basically how I have TP setup as in my project, except renamed as Focus. It's a good system, except I just happen to have it coexist w/ Mana. Like Focus for Skills (physical stuff) and Mana for Spells (magical stuff).

@caethyril Those are some good ideas, I think I can work w/ that, thx!
 

cthulhusquid

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Make the enemy do a lot of damage so the players can't wait around, and has to actively defend if they want to survive long enough to get their mana regened back. Even better if defending costs stamina, so there is a trade-off.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Why not make MP limited, or even a privilege to restore in an old-school vein? Or make it that MP restoring items are hard to come by for the first chunks of the game, and costly to buy as soon as they're on the market? Shucks, maybe magical energies are deadly to mortals and the Ether causes HP damage or debuffs as a trade-off.

MP regen can work in some games too. Parasite Eve places you in control of a single character, and almost all her Parasite Energy powers are support-based. Her Cure spells are tiered, but PE recovers over time mid-fight, and only mid-fight. However, Aya's PE regen slows down each time you use a power in the same fight. Sometimes it's more useful to have her just use HP-healing medicine instead of casting Cure. On top of that, her Active Time system means you can't access a PE / Item / Equip menu all the time in a fight, similar to what Final Fantasy 7 Remake has decades later.

But as someone who's made jam games that can be cheesed by getting back MP by defending? Yeahhhh, no thanks to MP regeneration. Be stingy with it so you don't have to return to town, because you're totally not made of Ether. Alternatively, make it so "Defend" only restores some MP, and doesn't actually halve incoming damage.
 
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TheoAllen

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how do we address the issue of players leaving a single enemy standing and letting turns pass to regen infinite MP?
1. Make the battle always progress. Either by adding a cooldown to guard for stalling the battle or remove it completely.
2. Make the enemy an actual threat so you won't stall the battle.
3. Do not make regenerating MP worth your time. A simple solution would be regenerating MP (or resources) does not take much time. Faster depletion, faster regeneration. So the player would not feel guilty so just use the skill since regeneration is easy.
4. "Attrition damage", either by gradually increase the enemy threat level (increasing stat per turn) or when x turn has passed and you do not finish the battle, the enemy gets a massive buff. There was a game that did this (and I forgot) and it was brilliant.
 

Finnuval

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Make battles time-sensitive and have consequences for stalling...

Have enemy reinforcements show up after X turns.
Make battle fatigue or moral a thing.
Etc etc
 

Featherbrain

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My game has MP ("stamina") regen both inside and outside combat, which means there's little reason to stall combat for MP regen; however, HP and healing in the field is harder to come by, so there may be some incentive to stall battles to use in-battle healing opportunities. To counterbalance this, enemies have skills that bring reinforcements, skills that make them enter a "fleeing" state and escape on the next turn, powerful "suicide bomb" tactics and multi-turn charging attacks that pressure the player to act more timely, etc--and the chance they will use these kinds of moves increases after 3-5 turns. Finally, the amount of loot, including the chance for post-battle healing of HP, increases as a "hunting efficiency" bonus if battles last less than X turns.
 

Ed19

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I think you can just remove the Mana Regen function instead, but in my game there's MP Regen on guard, but it will take a long time to regen MP to full, and all my healing spells cost MP by fixed + % amount (for example : 10+20% of Max MP),

which it would encourage players to use MP healing items rather than abusing the mana regen function.
 

Milennin

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I ran into this issue with my first game that had MP regen, but fixed it by making enemies strong enough that it's more of a pain to leave them alive, as well as have a partial HP and MP restore at the end of each battle (50% of missing HP/MP). That way, players never go into their next fight with nothing but attack to use.
You could also do stuff like detoriating EXP gains, the longer a battle goes on for as intended, or the reverse, like giving bonus EXP if a battle is cleared within a certain number of turns.
 

Basileus

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I'm not really sure what the problem is if the player wants to waste time doing that. Does having full MP break the system? Or are you just worried that players won't have fun because they are compelled to do something that isn't fun?

I think Persona 5 handled this pretty well. There is no SP regen by default, but you can acquire accessories to recover SP at the start of your turn fairly early on. It's never a huge amount so spells aren't free, and it's more like it causes your SP to deplete slower than being a strong form of recovery. But it is possible to guard for a few turns to let it build up if you really want to.

However, Persona 5 also has incentives to end fights quickly. The player is encouraged to use stealth to ambush enemies and will naturally want to end those fights in 1 round to avoid taking damage. This gets enhanced later through Confidant bonuses, like earning double money if you win an ambush before the enemy can attack. The player also gets more ways to recover SP as they progress Confidant ranks, like being able to make consumables that restore SP (one Confidant increases the amount restored while another lets you make it without taking up an action) or from your Navigator occasionally restoring the party's HP or SP mid-battle. Abusing SP regen might be tempting early game, but it's less worth it as the game goes on since it's easier to manage SP and using the SP regen accessories means giving up much more powerful ones.

Dragon Quest has also been using MP regen effects more in the modern games. DQ8 had the Staff skill tree grant bonus Max MP when a staff is equipped, with one of the late skills offering small MP regen at the start of the character's turn. In DQ9, all staves and wands were given an MP Absorption stat that allowed them to recover MP based on a percent of the damage they dealt. Additionally, skill trees for the different classes allowed for some Max MP bonuses, increases to MP Absorption rate, and MP regen at the start of the turn as one of the last skills. DQ11 has all of that plus some accessories that can grant start-of-turn MP regen, abilities that can steal MP when they damage the enemy, and accessories and passive skills to recover MP at the end of battle.

I think the end-of-battle recovery in particular is a good idea, especially since it gives more MP back than what you get for start-of-turn MP regen. Having options to recover MP mid-battle is still good for boss fights, but for regular battles it's rewarding to keep your MP up by finishing fights fast and by spending MP as efficiently as you can.
 

Tai_MT

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If a game offers MP Regen in some form or another, whether it be via equipment, passives, or w/e...how do we address the issue of players leaving a single enemy standing and letting turns pass to regen infinite MP?

I don't really feel this is an issue at all. For a few reasons:

1. Most players aren't going to want to sit down and leave an enemy alive to regen their MP, unless your MP Regen Rate is pretty good. If you have a pool of 2000 MP and you're down to your last 100 MP, but you're sitting around in a fight, waiting for the 5-15 MP you're getting every turn, you're going to be there a while. Most players don't find getting their MP back as a "valid reward". Players who do see this as a valid reward are players just basically looking to find any and every exploit in your game, no matter how tedious it is for them, in order to have an easy time. MP Regen would be the least of your worries with a player like this.

2. MP Healing Items are generally very abundant in most RPG's. It's a lot less time to just pop one of these and move along. Especially when you get a bunch of these for free from monster drops and random treasure chests.

3. MP itself is generally so abundant that you're not likely to even run out of it in most RPG's unless you've specifically designed your game to do so. If you've designed your game to do so, then you've got different problems of players not wanting to use your MP except against bosses since it's so expensive and so limited.

4. This is more likely a problem you'll have with TP. Which is easily solved by just unticking the box that says "preserve TP between fights". You likely could do something similar with MP, where your MP is drained to 0 between each fight and you have to wait for it to tick up in order to use magic spells.

5. This is the same problem some devs have with people who grind out XP in order to overpower the next bit of the game. Namely, it's seen as problem, but not the correct problem. Put simply, if your players are grinding XP/Cash, it's for a variety of reasons. Your game is too hard. Your story is compelling so the player wants to engage with it more than combat. Your combat is boring so the player wants to engage with it as little as possible. The rewards for a level up are very good and it's nice to level up (new skills, new spells, large bumps in stats). The player wants to trivialize your combat system because it's too complicated or tedious (which is what I did for FFXIII, rather than engage in the stupid Stagger System). If your players are sitting around in combat just to get their MP to regen, you have to consider why they are doing it. Are your spells so powerful that they want to use nothing else? Are your fights so tough that using your spells/skills is the optimal gameplay? Are consumables far too infrequent? Inns? Are you advertising the boss room is up next, so the players want to go in with full MP? Is getting your MP back very quick or very easy so it's not tedious? Are consumables too expensive? Are dungeon dives too long? Etcetera.
---

Basically, if you see "players are sitting in battle and using it to regen their MP" as the problem... it's not the actual problem. It's a symptom of a different problem you need to solve.

A lot of Dev work is like this. You need to figure out if something is an actual problem or if something is a symptom of another problem.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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@Tai_MT, I don't wanna quote your whole thread, but you've made some very good arguments for MP restoration! I had not considered such reasoning to be more loose-and-fast with MP. Sure, I've played games that have been more forgiving with MP, but didn't quite have the words to describe why those systems worked.

Point #5 is especially eye-opening, as it gives both positive and negative reasons why a player might want to grind out XP as well. Great insight! <3
 

Tai_MT

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@RachelTheSeeker

I've spent a lot of time not just designing my own game, but a lot of time analyzing why I do the things I do as a player as well as why other players are doing the things they do in games. You can read FAQs and Walkthroughs for some of these games to get a general sense of how and why players are doing some of the things they're doing as well.

With MP, I've just gone back and went, "Did I ever have problems in a video game with the amount of MP I had?" The best I could come up with was the very early NES games where MP was exceptionally limited or Pokemon where your MP is actually just how many times you could use each skill. I've never really run out of MP between towns. If I did, I had an over-abundance of MP restoring items to pop. I'd expend MP a lot as well, 'cause I had characters who couldn't do very much damage (mages!) without popping these spells/skills. Or, I'd count on the "healing room" just before the boss to restore me up to full MP. I've really only had a couple instances where I'd sat in combat to regen my MP and one of them was Final Fantasy 6, where I did it at the Magic Tower (Magic was the only way to hurt the enemies, and it was excessively long dungeon). I did it here because there was an enemy that really didn't hurt you at all that had a rare chance to spawn up, so I left it alive and just regenned my MP by draining it's MP. I never got to full MP, but it was enough to "keep going" without having to pop any consumables, which I was in short supply of at the time.

I think MP is something most players don't think all that much about just because it's rare you're in a situation you need to actually manage it. Then, when you do have to manage it, players look for easy and cheap ways to do so.
 

kirbwarrior

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I definitely echo a lot of what was said here. Honestly, it's not one of those things I've worried about, but you can directly attack it, if it is the problem;
  • Turn limits. Honestly, games built around quick battles and auto-failing after so many turns work and work well. But it's extremely heavy handed just to solve a small problem.
  • Weakening regen. If mana regen is, say, 10% on the first turn and drops 1% each turn, then after ten turns you've run out of 'gas'. Basically a lighter version of the above, but namely it helps make the fights that are supposed to feel long continue to do so.
  • MP fully heals at end of battle, or MP is zero at start/end of battle. Both mean there's no reason to heal except for this fight. The former makes sense already (you're just passively healing outside of fights), the latter is used in FFTA2 as an interesting way to have mages work as something other than nukes.
 

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