Party Homogeneity

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Eschaton, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Which I already pointed out.

    As for Milennin...

    Who says a monster has to be weak to one thing and one thing only?  Why can't the fire monster be weak to certain weapons as well?  Also, what is wrong with forcing you to change up your party a bit in order to tackle the new challenges before you?  Or change which spells/abilities/equipment you have to use in order to pass that new area?

    The problem you're describing comes from the devs inability to program decently or intelligently.  Why would anyone program such a highly specialized character that could ONLY use fire as a magic spell?  I know that Chrono Trigger did this, but the devs were smart enough to include OTHER ways to obliterate enemies so that you could keep bringing who you wanted instead of who had strengths for areas.  I've yet to see this system implemented again in such a highly specialized way.  I doubt anyone would do it either as it would make the game somewhat harder to play or enjoy from a player's standpoint.

    I would point out to you that yes it IS strategic, depending on how the dev programmed the game.  If you're thinking about Final Fantasy games as your example (which I'm fairly certain you are, as this seems to be the only case I've ever seen in which a monster was only weak to one element and nothing else in the entire game, which would force you to use magic on it).  However, without those games as examples (indeed, a fair few games include more weaknesses so as not to render physical hits absolutely useless since 90% of all RPG characters are physical fighters), your argument against it quickly falls apart.

    That's not to say you're doing it wrong in your own design, but that's part of what "strategy" is.  If your players aren't thinking about how to maximize efficiency throughout the game (as in, who to bring with them for that fire area), then there isn't a whole lot of strategy behind the game other than "mash attack/strongest spell until dead".  I would point out that such a battle system quickly becomes dull and players suddenly find themselves caring about the story instead of the combat, 'cause combat is basically what FF13 combat is.  Mash button until dead.

    I will agree that it sucks to bring your fire magic user along with you to an area where fire monsters exist and have them be absolutely pointless in that location...  But it sucks because the player didn't have the foresight to think about that before going into the fire area and equipping themselves accordingly.  It doesn't suck that the area exists or the magic user exists, it sucks because the player didn't want to have to think in the game.  They just wanted to mash attack until dead and plow through the game without ever having to stop and think for a moment.  That does suck big time.
     
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  2. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    Although it was a fairly weak example, Dragon Age II introduced "Cross Class Combos," in which the attack by one class made the target VERY weak to another class' attacks briefly.  Granted, this meant that magi would spam ice attacks to make targets Brittle and weak to physical attacks, but it was a step in the right direction.

    Skyrim's elements had ancillary benefits; ice reduced stamina, making it harder for physical types to spam their power attacks, electricity reduced magicka, which made it harder for magi to spam their spells, and fire stopped regeneration (and I think reduced defense).

    In the second and third (very late edit) Mass Effect games (Christ, especially the third), not only were your limited power pools useful from beginning to end, but were designed in a way that they could be used in a more strategic manner than just "if weak vs fire, then fire."  Granted, this always translated into Lift+Throw (Adept is my favorite class), but like Skyrim, each element had an ancillary bennie:  fire killed regen and armor, electricity killed shields and synthetics/engineers with added stun, and ice killed barriers/biotics while with added slow.

    But, back to Dragon Age II, cross-class combos and a limited class pool (only three, with minor offensive or defensive specializations) ensured that everyone you brought was used strategically.  Your party choices were most likely influenced by your player character's class.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2013
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  3. West Mains

    West Mains Veteran Veteran

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    I know what you mean. For me, I like to have characters that have skills and abilities that only they have access to, but that are also reflective of who they are. For example, a thief character has attacks and skills that focus entirely on stealing effects, health, items and mana from enemies. Obviously, anyone can use Steal, but since he's a master thief, he can steal everything and anything. 

    Although, in my game, I want players to have access to a huuuuuge roster of characters to mix and match their party, hence the unique skills. 

    In some games, it can be justified to have your party all able to swim in the same skill-pool. If it's a particularly difficult game, it gets that way later on, I think that sometimes it can be that the only way to win is to have everyone doing the same thing. Dedicated healers, for example, are a great idea. Until they die. And then you realise your entire team is USELESS at healing, and as a result they die too. So, sometimes locking skills to characters can turn them into almost crutches that the player feels they NEED. Letting them have access to it all whether through grinding or whatever at least opens up more customisational opportunities to really let players build a very specific type of strategy with their characters. If all your characters are capable of swapping into the same skills, you can create some really neat full-frontal assaults. For example, if there's a boss that switches elements, having the team be able to do the same gives you a tactical edge. 

    So... Both are justifiable in their own way, I suppose.
     
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  4. Alexander Amnell

    Alexander Amnell Jaded Optimist Veteran

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    I don't like having characters that can do everything... It seems pointless as you say. Even for custimization there are better ways than that. One thing that really gets me is magic, Have you ever played a game where magic wasn't supposed to be at least kind of rare within the lore of the game? (they exist but most of the time that is the case) Yet it's like your party just happens to consist of sorcerers who can also wield any weapon and learn weapon skills like they've devoted their life to that as well? In my game I have only two playable characters that can use magic. One of them is a wizard who uses basic spells and can choose 1-2 specialization spell types as well (i.e. Storm magic, pyromancy, aeromancy) There are seven elements each with like 8-10 spells but the one character that can use them can only have 2 of those element specilizations maximum. Other characters that are more physical have similar specializations (although not as powerful) but they all are guided by what they actually know how to do within the context of the game. A jack of all trades type character can be fun for grinders and completionists I guess but it's just far to unrealistic and lazy as a design perspective and I've never seen a game where they didn't allow for some kind of rediculously overpowered guy who could destroy everything. (Ever had a black mage with secondary calculator abilities in final fantasy tactics?)
     
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  5. kerbonklin

    kerbonklin Hiatus King Veteran

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    One concept that goes well with "everyone can be any class with any skills" is having classes give different level-up stat gains. This is the approach i'm taking in my current project.  If I want to make my princess character to be a melee sword-user (after unlocking the class through the plot), I can keep her leveling that way to gain more Attack stat at the cost of less Magic, then switch her back to some other class that can make use of Attack, like an Archer.(She could go back to being a mage if she wanted but she'll have less Magic to work with, but in the end with a lot of grind, anyone can learn any skill with any class, but then the stats come into play)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2013
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  6. Alouette

    Alouette Villager Member

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    If the point of homogenization is after being able to clear every challenge, it's ridiculous to even care about it.

    6, 7, 9 and 10 don't have issues with homogenization.

    8 does, because swapping GFs and Magic affects a character a lot.

    12 has it the "worst." As soon as you get your party members, you can turn them all into dagger & shield wielding red mages.

    My favorite FFs are the ones that let you "ruin" a party as early as possible. Having options is fun.
     
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  7. omen613

    omen613 Veteran Veteran

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    the average player usually looks for the "easiest" solution to battles. If its "easier" to spam attack to win battles they are gonna do it. if its easier to bring a priest that spams cure on the other members who are spamming attack they gonna do it. They won't think unless they have too. 

    Having a character that can heal better then anyone else sures their place in the group. But what if that priest can only heal himself fast and easy? wait what? now they suck.

    Take out the healer and what do you have left? a bunch of damage dealers who are popping potions and high potions. Step in the right direction? maybe. maybe not.

    What if that warrior can use a TP move that drains HP from a foe on his next swing.

    What if that mage can convert his MP into HP

    What if that Priest's attack moves require HP to use....and his MP is used to cure back his lost HP but not others.

    Looks like the rouge will be the one chugging potions. But he likes to steal potions! He likes to steal fangs and bomb cores and feathers that make him go wooooosh. Nothing makes him happier then stealing other peoples toys (or body parts) and throwing them at the other kids in the school yard to play with!

    I think players start to manage their resources a little bit more now. Have to think. Cause no one else is looking out for them. What about team mechanics? lets wipe out some rock paper scissors on foes. Rouge beats X, Warrior beats X. Each character has a unique mechanic based around their resources. 

    But i like customization! Well you can use talent trees, or class upgrade paths (War gets to level 10 and decides if he wants to become a holy knight or a dark knight etc)

    Just an idea
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2013
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  8. SOC

    SOC "God is my Judge" Veteran

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    While I love FF7 and 6 and see them as two of the best games ever made, I also love Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 9 equally. A lot of that comes from the feeling of "personality" with the characters, they have clearly defined roles that they stick to and limits you as a player to think creatively with your parties, or feel a since of loyalty to them during storyline sequences.

    I absolutely love games that have clearly defined character roles in battles and stay true to it: Marle is a dedicated magic user and healer in Chrono Trigger, while Freya is an amazing tanky DPS with tons of utility in FF9.
     
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  9. hian

    hian Biggest Boss Veteran

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    @OP:

    I seriously question whether you really remember what the games you claim you played, play like, because your description of them is really off.

    Firstly, FF10, appart from nine and four, has excellent balance between freedom and class restriction.

    Unless you chose open sphere grid, all characters except khimari had predetermined roles.

    And, even if you give characters new roles, they'll still be stuck on that role until pretty much the end game, when you finally complete one circuit and can start on a new.

    You can't change roles mid-game whenever you feel like it, like in 3,5,6,7 and 8.

    And what's that about limit breaks?

    FF7 and 10 are the two titles where limit breaks are the most frequently attained, high power attacks...

    As for freedom to construct you party the way you want to:

    There are pros and cons to it, but one perspective a lot of people seem to forget, is that not all people will like the same characters.

    If gameplay rests on you needing a healer, and the healer in the party is predetermined, chances are many people will have to have a character they hate in their party.

    That's a shitty design choice right there.

    In many of the older western RPGs you mention, there is virtually no character development, so that's not an issue.

    Jrpgs have always been heavily centered around narrative, and for that reason the player will probably have much stronger opinions in regards to the characters.

    It's very hard to hate or like the main characters in Diablo for instance, because as far as personality goes, they are just blank slates.

    Selphie from FF8 however, was a character I couldn't stand due to her personality. I always felt like hitting her squarely in the face when she was on screen. Thankfully, FF8 has a skill system that let's me pick my own members without having to worry about getting steamrolled later for not actively using Selphie, so I didn't need to have her in my party.

    Which brings me to another great aspect of the FF10 combat system - the ability to swap members during a fight.

    If you're going to force static roles on characters, and make enemies that demand certain tactics, you should always give the player a chance to be able to adapt to the situation.

    To punish the player for not having psychic abilities or the gift of foreknowledge so they can always set up their party right, by having them die against enemies they haven't planned how to fight in advance, is stupid.

    It doesn't make the game harder, or mote interesting - it simply makes it slow, contrived and cumbersome.

    Besides, you're reducing the characters to pawns for gameplay and that's extremely problematic. Firstly because it devalues the game medium as a means for storytelling, abd secondly because it ignores the fact that in the FF series, story is arguably the most important aspect whether one agrees on the importance of story or not.

    Most people don't look to FF as a paragon of great gameplay, they look to it as a paragon of great storytelling in the video game medium.

    All the characters might play more or less the same, in many FF game, but they are not the same characters.

    The different characters are there to allow the player different ways of experiencing and relating to the story.

    Some games might focus on using different characters to provide different game play experiences, but that's a different ball-park altogether.

    There is nothing inherently better or worse about either. It completely depends on what the central point of your game is.

    But, to criticize FF for open ended characters, is like criticizing Diablo and Baldur's gate for lack of character development and engaging narrative.

    One is a jrpg, which is deeply rooted in Japanese visual novel traditions, and the others are dungeon runners rooted in a d'n'd tradition. Apples and oranges.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2013
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  10. Fafnir

    Fafnir And yet, these hands will never finish anything. Veteran

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    Baldur's Gate is hardly a dungeon runner. It's got a ton of character development.
     
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  11. hian

    hian Biggest Boss Veteran

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    I beg to differ. Comparative to heavily narrative driven games that's exactly what it is.

    How much time is spent on actually developing the characters personalities in relation to the narrative is negligible compared to the time exploring dungeons and fighting enemies.

    That being said, I do acknowledge that it surpasses most other western RPGs of the time in regards to character development and narrative focus, it's still a far cry from jrpgs like Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Xenogears and Breath of Fire etc, where you spend arguably the majority of the game watching the characters interact with eachother and take an active part in an on-going story.
     
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  12. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    I would point out that one of the better ways to prevent homogeneity while still allowing massive amounts of customization is the method used in say FFT or Dragon Quest IX.

    Yes, everyone can technically learn everything (with the exception of special jobs in FFT), but it really doesn't matter because they can't all learn everything and USE IT AT THE SAME TIME.

    You still are forced into making choices of who will do what, because there just isn't enough resources to have everyone capable of everything. A character in FFT can only have their job's skillset, plus one other job's skillset with a reaction, support, and movement ability. Add in the stat multipliers based on your current job and it restricts it more as certain secondary skillsets become useless on a lot of jobs.

    Same with DQIX. While you can have them go through every class in the game, it won't matter much when while they can use the skills of every skill set, they can't use the spells on any class other than their current one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2013
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  13. kerbonklin

    kerbonklin Hiatus King Veteran

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    Another thing to add in is the permanent stat boosts gained when leveling as specific jobs in FFT. One who levels as an offensive Attack-based class can learn whatever magicks they like later on, but they won't excel in the Magick stat to back it up to full potential. (usually below-decent potential)

    This is what I implemented into my current project. I might add ways to de-level my actors for the sake of re-building their stats.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2013
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  14. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    Actually, this is a bit incorrect. Due to the way the magic growth was in the jobs in FFT, your magic attack was going to be the same no matter what job you leveled in (other than mime). Your physical attack though could be wildly different though, and you could end up with less MP, though that wasn't nearly as important.

    (MA growth was the same in every job other than Mime and a few special jobs)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2013
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  15. kerbonklin

    kerbonklin Hiatus King Veteran

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    It must have been awhile then since I played FFT, unless i'm thinking of FFTA instead. Those two always confuse me. Yeah must have been FFTA. Anyways, FFTA and FFTA2 worked how I described it, and GameFAQ people and such made stat-growth-charts for each class. (which is what I semi-based my project on)
     
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  16. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    I just think that grinding your way to victory is a tedious cliche that died out with the NES.

    edit:  Rather, it should have died.
     
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