Pre Battle Buffs

MerlinCross

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This idea came about due to me not realizing something and taking steps to fix it. I went to test the game and saw some skills or healing effects still buffed me on the menu screen, along with other skills being castable but not doing anything. So I went and started to fix that...

Till I got to the buff skills. Now, removing the ability to cast a damage dealing skill on the menu screen, that makes sense. But this is..., different.

I was watching someone play an old RPG a few days ago and spent about the first 6 turns buffing up. But he would have had to rebuff if the boss killed a character or purged them. That would have been annoying to have to go back and rebuff after the fact yes but what if he could have just started going ham on turn one?

What if the plan of buffing the first 3 turns of a combat could be removed by pre battle buffing. CRPGs tend to do that(Divinity Original Sin for one.) Though I'm unsure of the balance of having players be buffed before a fight. I'm sure such a system could be abused to heck but I'm also trying to picture the average player, not someone trying to break the game's difficulty in half.

Thoughts?
 

bgillisp

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One approach I did in my last game was I set it up that some skills were auto-cast at the start of the battle if you had them learned. I used troop events to do that, if actor x has skill y learned then actor x uses skill y was the event.

What this did was you could decide what pre-battle buffs you wanted by putting those in the battle party. Plus I gave everyone only one such buff so that made things different. Here were some I had just to give an idea:

Archer: Hide. +50% EVA first turn, bonus to ATK and CRIT that turn.
Strategist: Resource Allocation. -5% to all mana costs for the entire battle.
Reporter: News Filter. Party is immune to all status ailments on turn 1 of the battle.
 

Oddball

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Well Viegar, look for a passive skill script. Then you can do that
 

MerlinCross

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Less "Passive" and more "Hey do I want to use MP before a battle for buffs before seeing what a boss can do?"

As an example; I'm sure most people know of SMT and Persona Series. Picture being able to cast the buffs before heading into a boss battle but you still have to upkeep said buffs. I"ts not a full on passive but it could save you time and help with normal encounters.

I'm not looking for a solution but rather a dicussion about how would this change the gameplay if you could cast buffs before a fight instead. As another example; I have a healing spell that grants a defense buff till you are hit. This spell is castable on the Party Menu screen.

Should I allow that? Should I allow players to cast Attack up before their next Fight? That's what I'm looking for, not "Simply use passives". What do you think changes if we do this and do you think this could add to a game or just be annoying?
 

Frostorm

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I've contemplated this as well. One of the solutions I'm considering is making "buff" type skills consume a "bonus action" instead of a full action. So basically, our hero would have the choice to buff him/herself before performing an attack, but the buff skill would still require all resource costs (MP, TP, etc).
 

41728280

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It's easy to use Yanfly's instant release plug-in, maybe it should be balanced with the skill cooling plug-in. The only difference is whether the release of the buff is in the battle scene or the map scene.
 

zzmmorgan

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Personally I rather like letting the player apply buffs before they hit combat. It allows for a level of planning if they think that next possible enemy is going to be tough enough to need the buffs.
 

MerlinCross

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It's easy to use Yanfly's instant release plug-in, maybe it should be balanced with the skill cooling plug-in. The only difference is whether the release of the buff is in the battle scene or the map scene.
It's a paid for plugin though and while I love Yanfly and all the work they've done, I'm not gonna put 10 bucks down on a rough guess of an idea.

Besides that doesn't seem to be too different from the Passives idea, save for the fact they upcharge your MP instead of being free.

I'm more talking about putting the choice into the player's hands rather than have it be active all the time. "I am low on MP. Do I buff or Not?", "A boss is coming. Do I buff for Fire or Ice?", "I am in trouble, Do I buff my Speed to avoid damage/run easier, or use that remaining MP to heal?"

Passives, and Instant casts take away that choice as they will always proc(At least if the instant cast can be paid for). You could rig it to the point you need to turn them on and off but that's also kinda not what I'm looking for.

Again, I need to stress this; I'm not looking of an actual solution. If I wanted a solution, I would have asked how to do it over in possibly plug in requests. What I'm trying to do here is get a discussion rolling about how the game changes if we let players pre buff before a combat.

Because I know just taking that into account will change the game. Most CRPGs let you buff up(or change terrain but that's way to complicated for this discussion) where as you have to scramble for your buffs at the start of a fight, while trying not to get killed during those first few turns.

Is this a good idea? Is it bad? Does it make the game more interesting or tedious? I'm unsure, that's why I'm asking, not "Hey how do I do this?"

Because if I wanted a solution, I would just make "Defense Up" castable on party menu, last 3 action turns in battle and disappear after 500 steps. There. Done. Easy. Pack it up move on let's get this game going.

But what does that actually DO for us as a dev and for us as a player? That's what I'm trying to suss out from other devs/players about it. I'm sorry if this comes off as a bit combative but I'd rather not keep getting posts about how to solve this issue when that's not what I'm looking for. I'm not even sure this is an issue to be 'solved' anyway just looking for input and hope this clears up my topic better.
 

Weremole

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The Trails and Persona series does this to varying degrees. Both have battle systems that revovle around turn manipulation and the buffs wearing out over time balances things out I think. In Personas case you can only auto buff one level at the start of battle however but in Trails your start buff depends on what Master Quarts (magic thingee that changes how a character behaves a bit beyond their stats and personal skills) you have equipped.
 

zzmmorgan

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Now you've got me thinking about maybe giving the player hints of weaknesses and such for an enemy so they have the opportunity to do things like "I bet this enemy has a weakness to Ice so I should buff up attacks vs. ice" or "I bet this enemy uses fire attacks so I need to buff my fire defenses"

Interestingly enough I don't think I misread the original question at all and I like this line of discussion....
:)
 

MerlinCross

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Now you've got me thinking about maybe giving the player hints of weaknesses and such for an enemy so they have the opportunity to do things like "I bet this enemy has a weakness to Ice so I should buff up attacks vs. ice" or "I bet this enemy uses fire attacks so I need to buff my fire defenses"

Interestingly enough I don't think I misread the original question at all and I like this line of discussion....
:)
You did And it's little things like that I'm looking for but I'm sitting here thinking "hows this differnet to just casting 'Ice Shield' at the start or equiping different elemental armors before a fight"

I suppose it's based around how 'proactive' you want to let the player be. This was an idea brought about by me not simply toggling the right switch but I don't really have anything to compare it to outside of maybe Divinity. And you could do so much prep work in Divinity I'm not sure how much the game would suffer if buffs was taken out from the 'pre fight' set up.
 

CraneSoft

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Pre-battle buffs are usually omitted and reserved to equipments/passives because they ARE an enormous advantage in their own right, if the player has the ability to maximize their damage on their very first turn completely risk-free, then why have buff skills in the first place? The entire purpose of buffs is that the player has to trade off one or few turns of offense in exchange for a potential greater return while exposing themselves to enemy attacks and the need to recast them, otherwise they are no different than equipments that provide permanent stat boosts.

Also the ability to freely buff yourself outside a fight can also be tedious when it comes to normal encounters, do you want your players to go into the menu and fully buff themselves before any fight whenever they reach a new area? Or make the normal encounters balanced around buffed characters? Those are risks that needs to be considered as they may spiral into unbalanced, unfun or broken gameplay if unchecked.
 

Dororo

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If a game let you buff for 6 rounds, that game is actually broken.

As my pal above said, the actual cost of buffing is the round you'll spend. Not the MP. The MP could be regenerated by consumables, but that round means you give one attack more to monsters. Multiply by each encounter and you'll see why that's an actual cost.

One thing to consider is how meaningfull are such buffs. MMORPG trend is to give you an uncanny number of small buffs (+1% to attack!!) just to simulate a depth that's not there. And give you something to do: escalate on buffs.
In such systems, casting buffs is annoying.

Old JRPG used a more traditional formula. A Buff is something that actually change the battle tides and strategy. Is not what he does "mathematically" as a bonus, is how such changes influence the battle tides.
Those old games had a very limited amount of them, to make them more meaningfull. And they worked very fine.
So, for example, in DQ the small wurm cast Shield. For 3 to 5 rounds, your normal attacks are lessened a lot.
What to do? The wurm can stack up more Shields and the moment it does attack, can poison you. Then stay safe behind his Shield.
That's how a simple buff can change the battle tide. Your Warrior can wait, or do something else than bash on a shielded wurm. The mage can cast a COSTLY debuff to make the warrior be relevant again OR, by spoiling the wurm AI, have the monster spend rounds to keep up the Shield instead of poisoning the party.

[Insert here a savvy conclusion of our choice]
 

Milennin

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I've got a few at start of battle passives for my game, but with limited passive slots to equip, it comes at the cost of not using another passive that might be active throughout the entire battle.
 

Wavelength

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Part of the dilemma is how do you inform the player that a boss fight is about to happen (so that they can choose and apply the buff skills) without breaking the tension that comes with walking into a room, seeing a scene play out, and moving right into the fight? I suppose you could have a quick menu screen before any boss-level enemy (perhaps also with a quick option that lets you apply every available buff to your battle party) - that does reduce the tension a little, but if you start playing the boss music right before hitting the menu then it won't be too bad.

One thing I do like about this is that it increases the penalty for KO's beyond simply "use a revive spell/item and keep smacking the boss". Be sure you don't try to use a mechanic like this in a game where bosses are regularly one-shotting characters.

Finally, in consideration of how to balance such a mechanic - if you make MP management into a big factor in your combat system (MP costs of skills are significant, and it's not a quick, easy thing to refill your MP when you run dry), then the decision to buff before the boss fight becomes an interesting, strategic decision. If MP is kind of trivial in your system (easy to refill, or with pretty small MP costs for skills), then the best option may be to simply balance boss battles around the assumption that the player will be buffing their entire party to the max before battle begins.
 

MerlinCross

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Part of the dilemma is how do you inform the player that a boss fight is about to happen (so that they can choose and apply the buff skills) without breaking the tension that comes with walking into a room, seeing a scene play out, and moving right into the fight? I suppose you could have a quick menu screen before any boss-level enemy (perhaps also with a quick option that lets you apply every available buff to your battle party) - that does reduce the tension a little, but if you start playing the boss music right before hitting the menu then it won't be too bad
Flip side of that is that we all know that ONE boss in THAT one game that came outta left field with no warning what so ever and just flattens the party. I feel there's a good way to tell inform a player that "hey a boss is coming up".

I mean old games used to do that with a save point or rest stop near the boss.
 

Dororo

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I mean old games used to do that with a save point or rest stop near the boss.
Yes, but such old games doesn't allow the triggering of buffs the same before the actual combat trigger.
And for a reason.
Players should get bashed hard, sometime.
 

Basileus

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Depends on the actual buff skills, but it sounds kind of broken. If the buffs are strong then you might just one-shot bosses. If the buffs are weak then you waste a bunch of time in the menu. It sounds like the balance might be pretty tough.

I think the problem comes with removing the opportunity cost of the buff like @Dororo mentioned. Needing to be in combat and protect the person you are loading buffs onto can be tense and fun. Just starting the battle with full buffs removes the actual gameplay around buffs. You would need to make them insanely expensive to use or they might as well just be permanent increases.

That's not to say any kind of pre-battle buff is bad. I've played some games where you can cook food after battle to give a bonus for your next fight, or stay at an inn and get a bonus to your next several fights. Maybe if the player had to use an item instead it would be better balanced since you can restrict how many of the items are available and how much they cost. It might actually be a cool gold sink if they player could exchange a decent amount of money for a buff item that helps when farming enemies that give high EXP or great drops.
 

Wavelength

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That's not to say any kind of pre-battle buff is bad. I've played some games where you can cook food after battle to give a bonus for your next fight, or stay at an inn and get a bonus to your next several fights. Maybe if the player had to use an item instead it would be better balanced since you can restrict how many of the items are available and how much they cost. It might actually be a cool gold sink if they player could exchange a decent amount of money for a buff item that helps when farming enemies that give high EXP or great drops.
This is good analysis and I just wanted to add on that if the game is designed carefully so that MP is limited and hard to refill within a dungeon (no cheap Ethers!), MP (and the pre-battle buffs that you'd use it for) can fulfill most of these same excellent purposes.
 

Black Pagan

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In one of my games which is based around 100% Auto-Battle system, I see a big advantage in using pre battle buffs. My idea was based around Equipped accessories providing players with buffs before the battle began.

But these would simply be minor bonuses like "20% Chance to afflict Bleed", "2% Lifesteal Effect" or "15% Bonus Crit chance". So player could hope to equip players with Custom gear which grant a Buff effect, before battle.

I imagine a durability system would keep this concept even more interesting, making the player equip characters with various gear, resulting in different pre-battle buffs.
 

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