Restrictions: Limited Move Sets

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Let's dust off this section of the forum and get some discussion going again!

This week on the blog, @Touchfuzzy is looking at how restrictions can help the design of a game. As an example, the concept of limited move sets: Your characters can only learn a set number of their skills. Learning new ones requires removing old ones.

Jump over and read the article HERE, and join in the discussion here on the forums.

:MV1:
 

MushroomCake28

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Very much agreed, although I would want to note that it's all about balancing freedom and restrictions. Being forced into one thing is not fun, but being able to do everything becomes boring. The example in the blog is perfect: because one single character has restrictions and be every jobs possible (black mage, white mage, tank, DPS, etc.), the player needs to choose how the character will evolve, therefore specializing his/her characters and creating a team.

Interesting read!
 

shockra

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I've never really given much thought to this before, but the article raises some interesting points. A character having too many skills can remove a lot of strategy within the game. In Final Fantasy 6, for instance, characters can potentially learn all magic spells if you grind enough. If all characters have healing magic, attack magic, support magic, etc., it makes all the characters very similar and removes a lot of choice from the player.

But let's say that restrictions were placed, like the example in the article. Suddenly, it becomes important which skills a character learns because you can't learn everything. Or alternatively, the character can learn each skill, but can only use a certain number of them at a time, having the option to switch them at towns or something like that. This can inspire creative experimentation, letting a player try a particular skill setup, and if it doesn't work, they can switch to something else. Either option would have added a lot more decision making to the game rather than allowing the player to just bulldoze everything with one tactic.
 

Touchfuzzy

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@MushroomCake28 I agree on avoiding too much restriction. I think it's very much a balancing act. For instance with Tokyo Mirage Sessions (which is what inspired me to write about this, also, just an amazing game, lots of great design decisions in it), you have 6 active skills, 6 support skills (and 6 session skills, though that would require a lot more explaining) available. This is enough to have a main focus and a dabble into another area, but very tight if you try to do everything. You want your restrictions to be just tight enough to make some decisions tough.

@shockra FF6 is definitely an example of a game where you can make characters so overly broad that they are pretty much interchangeable other than their unique skills. And I agree on letting players change their choices later on. Final Fantasy Tactics is a good example of this. Yes you can learn every skill with a single character, but you can only go into battle with your main class set of skills, one set of skills from another class, one movement ability, one support ability, and one counter ability. They may be able to "do anything" but not all at the same time.
 

Kes

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I particularly liked your point about items. I am also a hoarder of items by instinct, and so it's been particularly interesting for me on those occasions where I've been forced out of that by clever design.
 

Touchfuzzy

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I particularly liked your point about items. I am also a hoarder of items by instinct, and so it's been particularly interesting for me on those occasions where I've been forced out of that by clever design.
I've wanted to design a game around item use for a long time. I think that the closest you see is that a lot of roguelikes are built around item use. Of course, they get around hoarding instincts by making all items ephemeral, you use it or lose it.

I think a lot of times games just price single use items badly as well. Why use a one use grenade I can sell for 500 gold when I can get a good piece of equipment for 2000 gold.

Really the whole conversation about both the limited move sets and with items is opportunity cost. Options that aren't as good aren't going to get used that often. Items tend to fall into the category of things that have poor opportunity costs for using.
 

XPKobold

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I though of this for a bit with skills that also cost item use considering it would also make item consumption very useful. Considering i too hoard items by instinct as well. Though i do wish there were skills that make all tiers of items useful even battle only items.
 

Touchfuzzy

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That is another issue with items and skills as well. When they have tiers, it makes the lower tier stuff a waste of space later in the game. (another positive addition from only limited move sets, you generally drop all those lower tier skills so you no longer need to scroll past them when going through menus.)
 

PixelHeart

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Yup, I agree. And I like how pokemon does it. You only get a max of 4 moves at a time, but if you can pay for it you can always go back and get old moves if you want.

EDIT: ....So, what ever variation of this is what I'd go with. It would still have to fit the scope of the game your making. Maybe in your hypothetical pokemon game your pokes might have 8 abilities and use MP.
 

burbigo1

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I totally agree, we don't have any space issue with these restrictions and it's a cool thing
 

Chocopyro

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Well, that's... Actually really close to what I was already doing. :rswt
 

CrowStorm

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Generally I like this kind of restriction mechanic best when it makes some kind of sense in game/in-universe/in-fiction. When it's just kind of there, it feels bizarre. Like, if I learn how to do this sword thing why would I forget how to do this bow thing, if I learn to do this ice spell why would I forget this healing spell*, and then I'm re-remembering and re-forgetting how to do this stuff and that's not how memory works and so on. When you have some kind of in-universe applied phlebotinum, whether it's Magical Materia Malarky (tm) or like the Wanzer computers in Front Mission IV that can only run a certain number of programs (upgradable of course as the game proceeds) at once.

* Of course specific to spells then there's D&D's Vancian casting but that's a whole different story.
 

Touchfuzzy

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I find appeals to "realism" are kind of useless in a game. Sometimes mechanics in a game exist because its a game.

Now, you can apply reasoning to it after the fact, but there is no reason to go "but where is the REALISM". Design good game mechanics to be good, not to be realistic or have explanation.
 

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