Quick regeneration vs. resource management in RPG's

Valryia

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Many RPG's nowadays implement an regeneration system. As in, wounds ( or any dertrimental effects ) are quickly healed.


A example would be Final Fantasy XIII, where you recover all HP after each battle. Furthermore, defeat only means setback until just before the fight. In return, individual battles can be lost quickly if you do not watch yourself.


On the flipside are classic RPG's, especially Dragon Quest, which want you to preserve rare MP Recovery. Defeat in battle sets you back to the last church safed, with half gold, but same exp and inventory otherwise. There are no safe points inside Dungeons, too. In return, battles are quick and relativly easy - the main tactical problem lies in using the limited resources until the end of the dungeon.


What other games use these System correctly? Which use it wrong? Lay out your thoughts on which system is better for which game.
 

bgillisp

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I haven't played many games that restore you back to full HP/MP that didn't result in me finding an optimal set of attacks very early on, and spamming that the rest of the game. Sometimes it gets shook up by cooldown/warmups, but all that does is mean you stall until you can unleash Death Ray of Doom on everyone, and win the battle. And MP isn't a problem as you start at full MP in most of these regeneration type setups.


To give an example: I'm right now playing Echoes of Aetheria, and all HP is restored after every battle. So far I've sleepwalked through the game on normal difficulty, as I found a combo early on that seems to result in easy KO to whomever I use it on. Only way I lose is if I get unlucky on who the enemies target.


As a result, since it seems most games I play that restore you to full HP/MP turn into combo span/instant win, I'm not a big fan of that kind of system. Maybe if people can figure out how to balance it better I'd start to like it more. Even most fights in FFXIII were jokes in the end, the challenge was making sure you didn't fall asleep so that you could change your setup at the right time (excluding cheap bosses using Doom on the leader aside).
 

kovak

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If you implement something like this and have a injury system then i think it's possible to deal with it.

  • Actors are healed at the end of battle by a X%
  • If they are KOed they will revive unless you don't want to
  • When KOed they get a random injury that will nerf a parameter by at least 10%
  • You can only remove injuries on specific places or items (bandages, medicine, maybe magic)

You know that being injured is a issue for your party so you will want to keep their HP as high as possible cuz you never know when you're going to get crippled for an ENTIRE DUNGEON.
Imagine how disturbing it might be to fight a boss with all actors injured in different ways :/
 
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Slimsy Platypus

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The issue at hand here is that MP attrition (slowly depleting MP until it's gone) has a couple negative downsides.  Firstly, when you get a new cool ability, you don't want to use it, because it's likely more expensive and you need to save all your MP for an inevitable lengthy boss fight.  Secondly, it's just not fun to run out of mana, or even have to click dozens of items to recover.  Thirdly, you're often presented with the choice of using mana for healing or for damage, when there is a clear correct choice to save it for healing.


These issues have been addressed in hosts of different ways including going to systems that recover all your HP and MP after each battle.  Alternatively, breaking apart resources used for healing and those used for damage is another approach.  


Regardless of which you choose, as a developer you want to be cognizant of the pros and cons of the system you choose and make design decisions to accommodate the cons.


Personally I hate MP attrition systems.  It can result in a really poor player experience if they can no longer progress, and even may not be able to revert back to a place where they can recover.


I would consider opening up the possibility of cooldown based systems, resource systems that include charges, or breaking healing resources apart from damage.  You need to ask yourself, "how am I going to define failure criteria for the player?". Is it when they run out of resource?  Is it when they can no longer progress? What do they do then?  Load an old file and grind?  Whatever you decide for your game should be backed behind game systems that support that.
 
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Wavelength

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These are two diametric opposites in how you want to express challenge through combat in your game.  Do you want the challenge to be about finding ways to win each individual encounters ("acute" challenge as I like to call it), or do you want it to be about minimizing resource expenditure through the course of a dungeon ("chronic" challenge)?  You can have both types in the same game, for sure, but at the very least as a designer you should consider that they are very different types of challenge that should be kept somewhat apart from each other if they appear in the same game.


Most of @bgillisp's concerns about full heals after every battle are completely valid - however, I think when this manifests it often speaks to bad battle design.  Acute challenge tends to encourage full heals but full heals necessitate that there is a high variability in the outcome of battles.  You should be able to walk around the world map, get into two different battles, and reliably get two different results from using a similar strategy.  Action battle systems are obviously a good way to do this.  Tactics games like Fire Emblem or other games where you only take part in a few battles per hour tend to fit this.  Otherwise, there should be mechanics that force very situational tactics to be use and greatly reward or punish the player for adapting well.  Persona 3/4 did the "acute challenge" thing really well - the Knockdowns and "1 More" bonus attacks meant that when your party was of equal level with the enemies, you might finish a battle without taking a scratch or you might be Total Party Wiped depending on how well you exploit the enemies' weaknesses.  These games do not give you the full heal after each battle, but they could if they wanted to.


On the other end of the scale, "chronic" challenge works best when the player can make clear risk/reward decisions over long periods of time, the game has a heavy emphasis on time or resource management, and/or the game's dungeons/levels are designed to take a predictable amount of time/steps to run through.  Roguelikes are perfect for this kind of thing; traditional RPGs can fit this well too as long as they wisely limit the amount of resources that the player can bring with them (Mana, Healing Items, etc.) and don't allow the player to get badly lost in dungeons (this completely kills the fun that can come from running dungeons in such a system).  The key needs to be knowing what to use and what to hold back as the monsters whittle down your health - if the player can just heal themselves up after battle without thinking twice, you might as well skip the middleman and give the player a full heal after each battle.  One other type of game that tends to take well to chronic challenge is the game where permanent progress is earned at an extremely slow rate - BoF4 Dragon Quarter and Azure Dreams are really good examples - the strength you earn over long periods of time allows your minimal resources to last longer so you can keep adventuring.


In practice, there is room for a middle ground between these extremes.  Some games have genuine "chronic" challenge in dungeons but give you a full heal before the boss battle (this can be harder than you'd think to pull off correctly, though, because almost by necessity the player will have items, etc., that can give them a huge advantage in what is supposed to be an acute challenge in the boss battle).  Some games give you a partial heal after battle (like most Tales Of games), essentially whittling down your resources over time but allowing you to keep going if you play the battles perfectly.  Some games give you the full heal after battle, but present extreme acute challenge in their battles, and introduce the chronic challenge by forcing you to use precious resources as trump cards to win a battle when things aren't going your way (this creates a spectrum of outcomes - easy win, win only by using resources, defeat, etc.).

The issue at hand here is that MP attrition (slowly depleting MP until it's gone) has a couple negative downsides.  Firstly, when you get a new cool ability, you don't want to use it, because it's likely more expensive and you need to save all your MP for an inevitable lengthy boss fight.  Secondly, it's just not fun to run out of mana, or even have to click dozens of items to recover.  Thirdly, you're often presented with the choice of using mana for healing or for damage, when there is a clear correct choice to save it for healing.



This is certainly a problem that a lot of games with small MP pools face.  In my opinion, designers need to be more creative about designing battle mechanics around MP use and about keeping HP and MP mostly separated/differentiated so that most situations don't allow you to convert one to the other (either directly, like in a healing spell, or indirectly, like in an obvious choice between a Health Potion and Mana Potion).


In a couple of my games, characters have Mana and Adrenaline.  These are both used to cast the exact same set of skills - you can choose to cast a skill from either MP or AP.  However, Adrenaline starts fairly low at the beginning of each battle and regenerates each turn, whereas Mana carries over from battle to battle and can only be restored by resting at an Inn or using precious items.  Thus, you can have fun with skills in every battle without worrying about conserving your Adrenaline, whereas if you run up against something really tough you can use your Mana to cast your most powerful skills more often.
 
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trouble time

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In my own game you do regenerate HP and MP after each battle, you also regenerate MP during battle because every character (with one exception) has very little MP, 100mp to be exact, and a low cost skill costs 60mp. In addition enemies generally deal a LOT of damage, typically 3/4 hits will put a character out of commission. Then the game also uses Yanfly's Free Turn Battle system so the whole party draws from a limit number of action points a turn, and most spells, in one case a characters basic attack, cost additional action points. Heal especially is expensive since the healer only has (very powerful) single target healing. One party doesn't even have a real healer, they've got a tank instead. There's more too it than this, but the entire set up of the battle system is made to make the turn to turn gameplay more interesting. The other half is enemy design, but I'd be here all day if I tried to go into all that I do there. I suppose that in this case there is still resource management..
 

harmonic

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We actually struggled on this one with Echoes of Aetheria, and settled on auto-heal after battles, for the purposes of quality of life.


Also, it's easy to get away with that in Echoes because there is no "MP", only shared TP.


That said, that forced us to ramp up the difficulty - Hard is significantly harder than normal, especially on the boss fights. Weaker characters will get 1-shotted by boss direct attacks. 


If you do include long-term attrition, it's actually much easier to balance normal fights. They don't have to be extremely dangerous. (That said, Echoes is probably too easy on normal difficulty)
 

Pierman Walter

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In my game, there is an auto heal function, but it only works if you have received damage for less than 20% of your HP.
 

Crimson Dragon Inc.

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i prefer the attrition system over the auto heal...... though  a huge fan of the saga series of games, the saga frontier as an exsample, uses a system where your hp is restored to full after every battle, but not your jp (mp equvilent) and wp (mp for weapon arts) or LP, you face enemies that can hit for over 1k damage while your max max hp is 999, when it drops to 0, you lose 1 LP when LP reaches 0  the character is incompasitated til your rest at an inn or use a special item (which you only see 3 of if your lucky)


the game relies on proper resource management, and strategy :D  one of the reasons i love the series


auto heal systems IMHPO generally are never implemented well......the game is either having its difficulty vamped up so high that usually the auto heal doesnt make a differance, or its the auto heal makes the game a breeze which is very bad


the attrition system is overall better, since it requires the player to think strategicly, and manage thier resources and to properly prepare for the trials ahead, instead of just breezing through the game using the strongest moves at all times, i find most players who hate this system are new gen gamers (no offense to anyone), since most of the games they started on use the auto heal system or are like final fantasy where attrition is nerfed due to massive inventories. most players who complain are those who dont properly prepare for the coming trials and blame the game and not their own short sightedness 


dragon quest is a game that is a good exsample of a well implemented attrition system, well the ones before they added in the bag......but even those ones are very well balanced, there is no point in the game where you can just breeze through battles or dungeons and they have items to restore mp by walking so as to help a little late game :D
 

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