Poor Mechanics in RPGs

Milennin

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How does everyone feel about running in rpgs? Personally I've come to the decision that if you are going to let the player run you might as just let them run from encounters.
I don't think that allowing the player to run from encounters is a bad thing, but if you find your players to be running from encounters a lot, then there's probably something wrong with your encounter rate or your combat system simply isn't fun to play (could be for various reasons: it's too slow, it's too easy/hard, annoying enemies, no variety, bad rewards).

The way I did it in my game is that the only way to run from encounters is by the use of an item with a 100% success escape rate. They're just rare enough to disallow the player from running from literally every encounter, but still plentiful enough to allow them to run from any of the tougher encounters if they wish to do so.
 

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I find myself heartily agreeing with most of the ideas in this topic, but there were a few I was surprised to see:

  • Economy: I'm of the belief that if the player will have the money to buy everything they want at any point before the "endgame", you might as well do away with money entirely.  I love being forced to decide between a better weapon, a cool new accessory, or a full stock of potions to bring with me into the next dungeon.  A perfect system would allow for this kind of tough decision without encouraging "grinding" random encounters in any way.  As a sidenote, I often make endgame equipment available in big cities even near the beginning of the game, but I make it expensive enough so that the average player won't be able to buy it yet.
  • Encounter Rate Player Option: In theory it's nice to give the player this kind of control over Random Encounters, but for me at least, this kind of option (if it's always available) completely and utterly shatters the immersion that I have in a game.  Being able to turn down or off the encounter rate at will means that I no longer feel any sense of fear, suspense, or excitement and I explore.  I know what's going to happen because I told the game what to make happen!  It reminds me that the only reason I want to fight a RE is because I need to grind to beat some arbitrarily powerful boss.  A much better solution is to have items, skills, etc. that can change the encounter rate for a short duration - or to make encounters visible and relatively easy to avoid.
Here are a few design/mechanics decisions that really irk me in games, which I don't think anyone has mentioned yet:

  • Instant KO/Death Spells: They always feel more frustrating than fair, and for obvious reasons you can't allow the player to effectively use them on bosses.  It's very rare that such spells make the player's experience better.
  • Strong, Spammable Healing: Being able to spend a few mana points (or a cheap potion) to completely wipe out the effects of poor play during a battle cheapens any battle experience and makes it more of a grind than a fight.  I see a majority of games make this hugely unsatisfying mistake.
  • Useless Guard (Defend) Command: It costs your turn, so if the only thing it does is reduce damage, then another mechanic needs to support this mechanic to justify it.  Regeneration of mana over time, or bosses that telegraph strong attacks in advance, are good ways to justify it.  If you don't have anything else and all your Guard does is reduce damage by half, then Defend is almost never a defensible move and just wastes time.
  • Rube Goldberg Quest Mechanics: If I've been beating up Viridia's Royal Guards all game, and then a quest requires me to beat up a cat and take its hide and then seek out an NPC who just so happens to make clothing out of cat hides so that I can dress up like a cat to get past the single Viridia Royal Guard that won't let me into the city walls, I'm going to be pissed that I can't just beat up the guard, walk past him, and move on with more important things.  If I have a "boulder" skill, I get annoyed when I have to find a block somewhere else in the dungeon, slide it back to the original room, and place it on the switch to open a door - instead of just summoning a boulder on top of the switch (or shooting it at the door).  This is largely a matter of framing but it can also be a game mechanics issue, and so many JRPGs do it badly.
  • Uninteresting/Similar Skills: Skills that differ only in cost and amount of damage dealt (and name and animation) will only end up crowding each other out so that all but one or two of these skills are never used.  The best solution is to give each skill some sort of interesting utility.  Another solution is to keep the number of skills very small, and instead upgrade the skills with nifty additions throughout the game.  Indie RPGs and AAA RPGs alike have been getting better about this in the last decade, but there are still some offenders out there.
  • Poison Persists After Battle: This one has been mentioned in this topic already, but figured I'd give it a special mention, since having Poison persist after a battle is over is nothing but an annoyance to the player.
  • Useless Stats: Without scripts or very smart battle formulas, LUK is nigh useless in RPG Maker VX Ace, and AGI tends to be much less important than other stats, so this is a mistake that a lot of designers make in our program.  Your ring that improves LUK by 10 isn't interesting when LUK doesn't do anything useful!
  • Obscure Stats: Giving characters stats (especially non-obvious ones like WIS or CHA) without ever explaining to the player exactly what those stats do.
 
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I tend to find element absorb very annoying. It just punishes the player for trying different elements on an enemy, and It doesn't add anything good to the gameplay either. The only reason I can see for adding it is that Final Fantasy did it before. Maybe someone could figure out something to make it better, but in the games I played, I found it very annoying.

  • if I have a "boulder" skill, I get annoyed when I have to find a block somewhere else in the dungeon, slide it back to the original room, and place it on the switch to open a door - instead of just summoning a boulder on top of the switch (or shooting it at the door).  This is largely a matter of framing but it can also be a game mechanics issue, and so many JRPGs do it badly.
Then again, if you can manipulate Earth, you could just pave a shortcut through the entire dungeon. I wonder if someone made a game where you can do this...

Edit: Oh, right, you can do that in Minecraft! Well, except for the Earth magic part.
 
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Milennin

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I tend to find element absorb very annoying. It just punishes the player for trying different elements on an enemy, and It doesn't add anything good to the gameplay either. The only reason I can see for adding it is that Final Fantasy did it before. Maybe someone could figure out something to make it better, but in the games I played, I found it very annoying.
It could work if the developer somehow makes it obvious to the player that certain enemies can absorb elements, so it isn't just a guessing game. But if there is no information on this, then it does suck.
Then again, if you can manipulate Earth, you could just pave a shortcut through the entire dungeon. I wonder if someone made a game where you can do this...
This would strongly depend on the skill of the character manipulating Earth. My game has such a character, but it would take him a lot of mana and effort to create stone bridges or split walls (the game doesn't let you, though, only happens in a cutscene), to a point where it wouldn't be worth it unless absolutely necessary, considering he'll be needed in battles as well.
 

Vox Novus

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I find myself heartily agreeing with most of the ideas in this topic, but there were a few I was surprised to see:

  • Economy: I'm of the belief that if the player will have the money to buy everything they want at any point before the "endgame", you might as well do away with money entirely.  I love being forced to decide between a better weapon, a cool new accessory, or a full stock of potions to bring with me into the next dungeon.  A perfect system would allow for this kind of tough decision without encouraging "grinding" random encounters in any way.  As a sidenote, I often make endgame equipment available in big cities even near the beginning of the game, but I make it expensive enough so that the average player won't be able to buy it yet.
Here are a few design/mechanics decisions that really irk me in games, which I don't think anyone has mentioned yet:

  • Instant KO/Death Spells: They always feel more frustrating than fair, and for obvious reasons you can't allow the player to effectively use them on bosses.  It's very rare that such spells make the player's experience better.
  • Strong, Spammable Healing: Being able to spend a few mana points (or a cheap potion) to completely wipe out the effects of poor play during a battle cheapens any battle experience and makes it more of a grind than a fight.  I see a majority of games make this hugely unsatisfying mistake.
  • Useless Guard (Defend) Command: It costs your turn, so if the only thing it does is reduce damage, then another mechanic needs to support this mechanic to justify it.  Regeneration of mana over time, or bosses that telegraph strong attacks in advance, are good ways to justify it.  If you don't have anything else and all your Guard does is reduce damage by half, then Defend is almost never a defensible move and just wastes time.
  • Rube Goldberg Quest Mechanics: If I've been beating up Viridia's Royal Guards all game, and then a quest requires me to beat up a cat and take its hide and then seek out an NPC who just so happens to make clothing out of cat hides so that I can dress up like a cat to get past the single Viridia Royal Guard that won't let me into the city walls, I'm going to be pissed that I can't just beat up the guard, walk past him, and move on with more important things.  If I have a "boulder" skill, I get annoyed when I have to find a block somewhere else in the dungeon, slide it back to the original room, and place it on the switch to open a door - instead of just summoning a boulder on top of the switch (or shooting it at the door).  This is largely a matter of framing but it can also be a game mechanics issue, and so many JRPGs do it badly.
  • Uninteresting/Similar Skills: Skills that differ only in cost and amount of damage dealt (and name and animation) will only end up crowding each other out so that all but one or two of these skills are never used.  The best solution is to give each skill some sort of interesting utility.  Another solution is to keep the number of skills very small, and instead upgrade the skills with nifty additions throughout the game.  Indie RPGs and AAA RPGs alike have been getting better about this in the last decade, but there are still some offenders out there.
  • Poison Persists After Battle: This one has been mentioned in this topic already, but figured I'd give it a special mention, since having Poison persist after a battle is over is nothing but an annoyance to the player.
-People seem to have misread what I said about the economy; Never once did I say that the player should be able to buy everything, only that they should be able to buy full upgrades (presuming if upgrades are available). 1. Why sell all those armor and weapons if the player can't afford to even buy full armor and weapon upgrades for their characters? 2. Seriously do you think that getting to a new town after doing a bunch of battles in the prior dungeon/area and then not being able to afford upgrades is fun for the player? Player: "Hey, I just got to this new town, time to buy some new gear, oh shoot I can't even fully upgrade all my armor for my characters guess I got to go grind in the dungeon area I just came from; Fun..."

You can let the player buy upgrades for armor and weapons without letting them buy everything, this is why you make choices for the player. After buying all the necessary upgrades the player will only have so much money left, what do they spend it on? Force them to make decisions between other weapon types, new accessories and available items, etc... For most rpgs Armor and weapons are necessities, like how food is a necessity in real life; would you want to not make enough money to buy food?

As for the other points:

K.O. Spells: I dislike these from a player's perspective because most of the time you aren't prepared for when the enemy will actually make use of them. I remember Final fantasy XIII's final boss uses an instant Death ability and it's literally like the first time in the game any enemy causes it so I hadn't thought to buy the accessory to resist it beforehand. Also if the player is prepared for instant death abilities then they become no threat at all unless they inflict damage from the attack as well.
Spammable healing: Healing should be controlled in some way, higher resource cost or limited to specific characters, or restricted to single targets (in the case of items), this will make the player weigh whether if healing is worth it or whether taking some other/offensive or defensive scenario would be a better approach.

Guard: In more recent games I found that its more interesting to have guard regain a small amount of resource or something of that effect, it lets the player restore it without it being something that can be abused to a great degree. Most of the time guard is used when a character is low on hp and needs to be healed but a lot of games the damage is high enough that the guarding character is ko'ed anyway when hit. Boss monsters that force the player to use guard to reduce damage are always a nice touch.

Wacky Quest mechanics: It always sucks when the player feels like they are smarter than the game they are playing, if the player can think of a solution that should be in the realm of possibility it should probably be something they can actually do.

Skills: Even if skills do similar damage they can be easily made to seem different, maybe some inflict ailments, or have effects that prevent them from missing, or maybe even some execute alternate skills under certain scenarios.

Poison after battle: I'm the one who brought up it persisting being an issue but adding to what I said earlier it is part of the "doom" scenario in older games. In a dungeon, used up healing supplies, can't run from encounters, characters dying from persisting poison. Poison can work if it persists if its balanced out in some way but most of the time its more annoying than anything else. Having to open the menu to heal it all the time is just annoying and why would you want to annoy your player?
 

bgillisp

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@Vox Novus: I think our point is maybe the armor/weapons can be something to strive for. Many games will sometimes put items out of reach at first, as you will be coming back later and can afford it then. Now, if you cannot afford *anything* then it is probably something out of wack, or, maybe there is a plot reason for it. For example, in my game, there is one town that won't sell to humans, so they price everything at 999,999 G to make you go away. But that's explained in the plot and by the characters, so you know that is unreasonable by their reactions to the prices.

I don't know if I agree about the full upgrades though being required to give, as I like the challenge of having to decide who to upgrade if I cannot afford it all. But, I think part of the problem too is nowadays we have such hyperinflated numbers in our games, that we see the need to give these upgrades so your ATK can keep climbing to keep up with the hyperinflated curve of DEF for enemies. In those cases it is harder to survive without the upgrades too, so then it is seen as necessary to proceed. But in the older games I played, if you couldn't afford the +2 Sword, you moved on as that was only 2 more points of damage, and you can live without it, as the enemies only had 6 - 10 more HP so the battle took one turn longer without the sword.

Maybe the problem is more a deep balance issue though? If we make games like the standard FF games, we almost do need to give out the weapons/armor, as they cannot live without them. But if we balance the game better, then maybe we can try making it so that you cannot afford everything, as then the player can survive still without it (but it helps if they can afford it).
 

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-People seem to have misread what I said about the economy; Never once did I say that the player should be able to buy everything, only that they should be able to buy full upgrades (presuming if upgrades are available). 1. Why sell all those armor and weapons if the player can't afford to even buy full armor and weapon upgrades for their characters? 2. Seriously do you think that getting to a new town after doing a bunch of battles in the prior dungeon/area and then not being able to afford upgrades is fun for the player? Player: "Hey, I just got to this new town, time to buy some new gear, oh shoot I can't even fully upgrade all my armor for my characters guess I got to go grind in the dungeon area I just came from; Fun..."

You can let the player buy upgrades for armor and weapons without letting them buy everything, this is why you make choices for the player. After buying all the necessary upgrades the player will only have so much money left, what do they spend it on? Force them to make decisions between other weapon types, new accessories and available items, etc... For most rpgs Armor and weapons are necessities, like how food is a necessity in real life; would you want to not make enough money to buy food?
I didn't misread what you were saying about Economy at all; there was a large discussion about it and I was simply noting that it was one of those rare elements in which I disagree with most of what was said here.  To be fair, I also disagree with most of what you said about it.

I understand that you're saying "the player should have to decide between the Ruby Ring and the Sapphire Ring and the Necklace, but the player should be able to afford at least one of them the first time they see these items", and that's not really a tenet that I follow.  Wanting is a very powerful motivator, even in games, and I think letting the player see powerful items early on and then, over time, be able to buy them much later can be a very nice feeling.  I don't think that a new MMO player with 138 Gold is going to see the Ultimate Sword of Mighty Smiting +7 being sold for 250,000 Gold and think "hey I better go back into the last dungeon and grind a few million more slimes"; I think they accept that it's a goal to work toward for later.

And I think that there's room to do this in RPGs, even in RPGs where the standard "next tier of equipment in the next town" setup is used.  Think of a rather boring RPG where you came from a town where you bought Iron Sword, Iron Mail, Iron Helm, etc., ran one or two dungeons, and now you're in the next town where they sell Steel Sword, Steel Mail, Steel Helm, and so on.  If the player is expected to have enough money to buy each of those, plus all the consumable items they need (standard potions, ethers, etc.), then what is the purpose of this equipment system aside from adding a lot of busywork (find the weapon shop, buy the Steel-tier weapon for each character, equip each character, sell back your Iron-tier weapons, find the armor shop, figure out how many you need of "sharable" armors, buy the Steel-tier armor for each slot for each character, equip each character, sell back your Iron-tier armor, and finally move on to the more interesting stuff).  Using your food analogy: it's like having food stamps spawn in your pocket every time you go out to buy food, without ever working.  Yes it means you'll always be able to eat, and that's nice in a way, but it's not the most rewarding way to do things, and an all-powerful designer making such a game would be wise to just always keep your belly full instead of making you go out of your way to obtain the food that you'll automatically have the resources to obtain.

On the other hand, if you only have enough money to afford (just throwing out a number) 40% of the steel-tier gear, and the game is properly balanced around that, then you have a really interesting decision to make, and all of a sudden it's strategy and flavor instead of busywork.  Do you load up on gear for your favorite two characters?  Do you buy armor for everyone and rely on your healer to keep the party hale and hearty in the longer (because your attack power is lower than expected) battles?  Do you buy everyone weapons instead and try to kill enemies before they can smash your low defenses?  Or do you buy a few extra consumables instead and save most of your money so that you'll have enough cash to buy most of what you see in the Mythril-tier town that's obviously coming in a couple hours?  I find this kind of structure much more rewarding, on the whole, than "just buy each Steel-tier item now that you're in a new town".  I suppose some players will see this kind of system and think "oh I need to go back and grind until I can afford everything" but I feel that the proper framing and good balance can take players out of that mindset when they find that it is not necessary to buy a new weapon, helm, mail, accessory, and shield at every single town they visit.

And I will freely admit that this is not "the one right way" and that I'm not even necessarily in the majority, but this is an approach that I like a lot.

Quick Hits on a few other things you responded to:

  • Healing: The best-designed "healer" I've ever seen in a game is League of Legends' Soraka, who can heal other allies for massive amounts but is extremely vulnerable to being killed herself.  It makes her exciting, which is something I've never been able to say about a healer before, although this kind of solution won't work for all games.  Sacred Earth: Promise is an RPG Maker game that I think did a real good job with healing; every character has a combined heal/guard skill with a relatively long cooldown.  It's a bit overpowered in the last public build, but if toned down a bit it would make for a perfect system where healing can't simply erase all of your mistakes.
  • Skills: I totally agree that you can add ailments or different utility to skills to differentiate them; the problem is games that don't, where "Slash Rush" and "Heavy Hit" and "Whirling Swing" all have essentially the same effect with different numbers.  Thankfully these games are becoming the minority; a ton of game developers have gotten good at making most of their skills cool.
  • Quest Mechanics: I really like what you said about "the player feeling smarter than the game".  It truly is a nasty feeling.  Tales of Symphonia is one of my favorite games of all time for its touching story, breezy atmosphere, and amazing battle system... but several of the mandatory objectives, particularly the ridiculous Ymir Forest puzzle (where you have to run the length of the dungeon several times and get an array of forest animals to bounce around a fruit that's floating literally a few inches out of reach, to satisfy a powerless little elf kid who "won't let you past" without the fruit - while the world is in danger), had me throwing my hands in the air in frustration and wanting to spit.
 

Vox Novus

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@Wavelength its fine that you disagree, I also did say earlier that this may be more of a personal preference than an actual sound logical design you could certainly balance the game both ways. I prefer to make my games give the player choices among what to buy but leave them enough money to buy upgrades for necessary equips. I often make skills tied to weapons or armors in some way so giving them a choice between weapon types seems like a critical decision for them to make as far as how the player uses their characters and spends their money.

I also don't like my other party members to be so throw away that if you don't buy gear for them you can just not worry about using them as much; I like to make players want to use all party members for their different battle styles (assuming you have more than the standard 3-4 battle party for members).

I personally just don't like playing rpgs where you can't seem to buy any of the gear; when I play rpgs I expect to be able to upgrade my characters gear in the shops (this is of course assuming the majority of gear is obtained through the shop), of course I also don't like playing rpgs where there is no choice in what to buy either if I'm just going from iron sword to steel sword all the time that's not fun either.

I guess we do both agree about one thing though and maybe this is actually what the good mechanic/design choice is; your economy should force the player to make decisions on what to buy with their money.

about the healing thing; I did something interesting in a game I'm working on now, the main healer heals through using chants (single and multi target). The chant restores hp then applies a small regen effect but since it is a chant the ability only works while the healer is chanting; meaning they are rendered uncontrollable/can't act for the duration of the chant.
 
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I think there's a decent agreement here myself, as it seems we all agree needed equipment should be affordable. That is, if it *must* be bought to progress or survive, then the player should be able to afford it. However, if the party can survive without it, then there is the option to do what wavelength suggests too. So it really seems to be more than just the economy issue myself.

I didn't touch the rest myself yet, but here are a couple thoughts:

KO skills: Depends on the system. It can be cheap sometimes, but I think you could balance it out by letting the player (and enemy) cast skills that reduce the chance of the skills hitting(or even make them immune) . At one point in my game I was going to have a weapon that gave a chance of inflicting KO on attack, and you could counter it by equipping a certain set of armor which dropped the chance of instant KO attacks hitting (the best one gave you KO * 0% or 1%, don't recall). Ended up dropping it as it made no sense in the game world, but I might return to it in another project.

Healing: I personally feel that if the enemies get many full party damage spells, then the party should have a full party heal spell to counter that with. Otherwise, your enemies just feel cheap. Now if  you gave the enemy few (or no) full party damage spells, then it makes little sense to give the player a full party heal spell.

Or, you could also do what the old school games did, which is let the party learn the spells which healed everyone very late in the game. I think the last Wizardry game I played you couldn't learn Heal All until Level 14 at the earliest, which is a *long* way off in a Wizardry game (though there were items that could sub for it until then). I'm using something like this myself, where the JP required to learn the heal all spells are very expensive, and unlikely to be learned until very late in the game.

Though, I'm surprised no one has suggested the idea of making the heal all spells heal less than the standard heal spell? So now the player has to choose: Heal one player for ~1000 HP, or heal all 4 in the battle for ~400 HP. Decisions, decisions...
 

Milennin

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Though, I'm surprised no one has suggested the idea of making the heal all spells heal less than the standard heal spell? So now the player has to choose: Heal one player for ~1000 HP, or heal all 4 in the battle for ~400 HP. Decisions, decisions...
You could still make the party-wide heal as much as single-target heal, as long as the mana cost is significantly higher, and/or has another downside, like being usable once per encounter. But I agree it's more interesting when the AoE heal is weaker than single-target heal.
 

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@Milennin: That's what I currently do, right now the mana cost for the full party heal is 2.5 - 3 times the single target spell, and I have 4 in my battle party. I figure since it is rare that all 4 will actually need the healing, 2.5 - 3 x seems fairer than 4x.
 

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WWhat does everone think about abilities that are only usable when hp is full like in ledgend of zelda with sword beams?
 

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You could still make the party-wide heal as much as single-target heal, as long as the mana cost is significantly higher, and/or has another downside, like being usable once per encounter. But I agree it's more interesting when the AoE heal is weaker than single-target heal.
There's a series of RPGs (not made in RM, but inspired by the same sources) where most spells can target a single char or an entire party (yours or the enemies). If you target a party the MP cost doubles and the effect is cut in half which is often worth it, even when there's only 3 chars in the party.
 

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Yeah, I agree for sure that the player should generally be able to afford what they need at any given part of the game without having to do any extra grinding, and also that it's important to make the player make some sort of choices about their equipment.  I suppose where we differ in opinion is that if the player isn't able to afford a "full set" at every town, I think the better solution is usually to rebalance enemies to be fair with a partial set, rather than raising the player's average income.

WWhat does everone think about abilities that are only usable when hp is full like in ledgend of zelda with sword beams?
Personally I think this is a really good mechanic for action RPGs where you can reward the player for not taking damage by letting them finish off enemy after enemy really quickly.  I think it could be a fine mechanic for turn-based RPGs too but it would have to be something more like "usable only when HP is 95% or higher" and would basically let the player fly through encounters that they've strategically mastered already as well as encounters that they are far overleveled for.
 

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I'm not honestly fond of max health abilities in turn based games. I much prefer desperation abilities, where you're trading the risk of staying at low health for a boost of power.

In relation to healing, I'm not fond of games that seem to require you to have a character that does nothing but constantly heal. I frequently see healing done in a way where magic healing makes item healing obsolete less than an hour into the game. I'd much rather encourage my players to be proactive than reactive. Reactive abilities should be expensive, so the players are rewarded for anticipating what their opponents will do. Of course, that involves ensuring that the developer gives the player the tools needed to do so.
 

Vox Novus

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Part of the healing thing to is that many games include items which restore your primary resource meaning there isn't a need to use items to heal because you are just restoring your abilities to cast spells. Part of the purpose of healing items is that they are resource free, they save you from having to expend mp or whatever to heal thus saving it for more critical times and for other abilities. The primary resource should be something valuable and not easily restored as simple as chugging a mp healing potion that can be bought in any old shop.

Also to increase the purpose of healing you could potentially set it that only healing items can be used outside of battle, while spells are limited to battles.

As for the full-hp bonus damage idea, this works well in action games like Zelda but in a turn based game would be much trickier. As Wavelength said the threshold for triggering the boost would likely need to be lower as most of the time you aren't ever going to be at full-hp. I could see it being more useful for faster characters who can act before they might potentially take damage; this might be an interesting mechanic to throw on the standard fast healer character, instead of healing they can dish out damage due to keeping their hp up.
 

tlst9999

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@Vox I disagree on the part where healing items should be expensive. MP potions maybe, but HP potions should be cheap and affordable. Dying in the middle of a dungeon simply because you couldn't afford more potions is a really lame way to lose.

In return, if the player needs a place to spend his hard earned money, I'd rather make equipment more expensive and maybe charge money for equipment upgrades. Done correctly, that would give the player some incentive to grind and save minus the frustration of running out of potions.
 

Vox Novus

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I didn't say healing items should be expensive I said your primary resource for using spells/abilities (mp) should be valuable as in not easily restored. It should be something the player can't abuse and something they have to think about how it should be used.
 

Milennin

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I didn't say healing items should be expensive I said your primary resource for using spells/abilities (mp) should be valuable as in not easily restored. It should be something the player can't abuse and something they have to think about how it should be used.
I would be very careful when putting "not easily restored" and "think about how it should be used" together when talking about MP. I've played games that are designed around that, and dungeon runs typically go like this:

Well, I have limited MP that is not easily restored and I have no idea how big this dungeon is going to be. I'd better auto-attack as much as possible on the regular encounters to save my MP for when I might need it. *1 hour later at the boss* Good thing I went through all those regular encounters using auto-attacks only, now I can unload all my characters' strongest skills on this boss and finish this dungeon.

The main problem is that players have no idea how often they should be using their skills when MP is not easily restored. This is a problem in dungeons, because players also don't know how big the dungeon is and so they feel it's better to preserve their MP for boss fights only.
 
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Wavelength

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I would be very careful when putting "not easily restored" and "think about how it should be used" together when talking about MP. I've played games that are designed around that, and dungeon runs typically go like this:

Well, I have limited MP that is not easily restored and I have no idea how big this dungeon is going to be. I'd better auto-attack as much as possible on the regular encounters to save my MP for when I might need it. *1 hour later at the boss* Good thing I went through all those regular encounters using auto-attacks only, now I can unload all my characters' strongest skills on this boss and finish this dungeon.

The main problem is that players have no idea how often they should be using their skills when MP is not easily restored. This is a problem in dungeons, because players also don't know how big the dungeon is and so they feel it's better to preserve their MP for boss fights only.
One way I've "solved" this problem (in the context of my own game) is by offering two different resource pools that can be used to cast the same set of spells: mana (MP), which starts at 100% when you leave an inn and can only be restored in a dungeon by using MP-restoring items, and adrenaline (AP), which starts at 20% in each battle (and can't be carried over between battles) but quickly refills with every turn during a battle.  Even players who want to save their most important resources for the boss can use those same interesting skills on regular enemies by using AP.

There are a lot of other little things I like to do with healing in games to make it interesting and avoid abusability, but I don't want to drag the discussion too far off of its original topic, being badly-designed mechanics in RPGs.
 

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