Single-Target, 1-turn buffs: is it ever good to design these?

jonthefox

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
1,431
Reaction score
593
Primarily Uses
When you have a skill that provides some kind of buff, and it does not affect the entire party but rather just one specific target - is it ever worth making it last only 1 turn? Since you cannot usually predict what skill the enemy will use, or what their target selection will be (I know that SOMETIMEs you can, and some games use combat mechanics where this is more predictable...but i'm talking about things in general here) - then even if you make the effect of the buff incredibly strong (let's say reflect any spell), it would still be rather unreliable.

Consequently, as a general rule, and as a general principle of good game design, would you say that single-target buffs should last for at least several turns? If so, what exceptions could you think of, or have you used in your games?

*Note: I am referring to skills whose only function is to buff a target - NOT a skill that does damage and ALSO buffs as a secondary effect, which would obviously makes the above considerations irrelevant.
 

Andar

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
31,273
Reaction score
7,633
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
it depends.
And that can mean a lot of things like depending on how your battlesystem is balanced and more.
For example if the battlesystem is balanced around a base hit% of 50% (instead of the 95% default that I consider idiotic, either go 100% or much lower), then it can be worth the action to give someone else a +40% to-hit.

For example if you have two actors in the party, the buff skill is a high-speed one and the other actor has a low-speed heavy skill, then it can be a good tactic to buff the character for that one skill use.

I admit that most developers are too lazy to really balance their battlesystem, and most players are too lazy to really think on what actions to combine - and if those two meet then such tricky skills are never a good idea.
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2019
Messages
41
Reaction score
53
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
If it's only for 1 turn, I'd expect it to be something juicy, like a huge damage boost, guaranteed critical hit, perform an action twice, grant max super meter, etc. I think that'd be totally worth it for a single turn and target buff
 

Tiamat-86

old jrpg gamer
Veteran
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
540
Reaction score
219
First Language
english
Primarily Uses
RMMV
my current project has a heavy focus on 2-3 actions per turn.
(1 instant + 1 standard (2 standard when hasted)
so there is actually alot of focus on the instant actions having 1 turn buffs for the standard actions.

in 1 case the skill is an low-mid dmg attack that applies a self buff on hit. if use that action for both the instant and the standard action, the 1st hit add +hit to the user and the 2nd hit in the same turn would add a dmg buff for the 1st damaging action next turn.

skills that can apply taunt, temp HP, counter rate and crit rate also tend to work well as 1 turn buffs
1 turn buffs just need to have high speed bonus to be useful but the effect/potency/cost of a 1 turn buff needs to be properly balanced to be worthwhile compared to a 5turn similar buff.
 

Wavelength

MSD Strong
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
5,603
Reaction score
5,071
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
((Note: I am assuming you mean Buff as in any kind of positive status, since you mentioned "reflect any spell", and using the term as such. If you actually mean only the stackable +25% stat buffs that are called 'Buffs' in RPG Maker, then they are almost never sufficient as the only effect of an action.))

I think there are a lot of good use cases for single-target, 1-turn buffs. For example, you could have a low-cost buff that increases the user's (or other target's) MAG by 100% for 1 turn. If they use a powerful attack spell next turn (and there is no base damage on the spell, only scaling damage), they have dealt as much damage over the two turns as they would have if they used that attack spell both turns, except it cost much less MP to do it this way - and that came at the cost of flexibility and the need for preparation a turn ahead. Similarly, powerful single-target buffs like Invincibility (Physical & Magical damage rates 0%, State Rates 0%) are usually the most balanced at one turn in length, since (even without any other benefits on the skill) if you have four characters you are using one-fourth of your turn to activate it and you are wasting, on average, one-fourth of the enemy troop's turn since about one-fourth of their actions will target the invincible character.

There are lots of other more creative single-turn buffs that are appropriate for single-turn design,as well: unconditional Covers, MP cost reduction, scope change (single-target actions become AoE), counterattack stances that also increase the target's DEF/MDF substantially, access to extra skills (think like a Charge Attack), and so on.

The one thing you have to be careful about as a designer, in RPG Maker, is the timing of the buff and whether than means it will sometimes last one turn and sometimes two turns. For example, if you want the user's next spell to be twice as powerful, you can give the buff state the feature +100% MAG and set the turns to 2-2 (meaning that it will expire after you have taken one turn with the buff on). However, if this buff can be cast on another ally that is slower than you, they will have it in effect this turn and next turn, and if they cast a spell both turns, they have received double the intended benefit. Likewise, if a defensive buff is only supposed to last this turn, but the enemies all attack before you can cast it, it does nothing. For these reasons, you may want to give certain buffs either very fast or very slow Action Speed, in order to make sure they affect the intended number of actions, or restrict them to self-casting (Scope: The User) to put all ambiguity to rest.
 

CraneSoft

Filthy Degenerate
Veteran
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
251
Reaction score
376
First Language
Not English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Yes and no. Entirely dependant on the strength of said buff.

If let's say I have a skill that massively increase a character's defense (Phalanx) for one turn, and that character have a substitute skill, I could technically stop worrying about enemy attacks if it lasts anymore than a single turn. Similarly, if I have a skill that can massively boost a character's attack for one turn (Charge/Focus/Concentrate) and there is no restriction to use said skill every turn, I can turn one character into killing machine with the right setups, and if it lasts anything more than that I could cast that on my whole party and completely break the game.

Whether is it a good idea is your call and how you balance your game.
 

Dr. Delibird

Also known as HRforges
Veteran
Joined
May 16, 2014
Messages
283
Reaction score
175
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
Its entirely dependent on what "flow" you want the battles to have, what skill rotations you want the players to be using (if any) and even if both those other factors make a skill like this applicable you still need the skill to make sense for the player to use it vs any other option they have on any given turn.

Something like a provoke + evasion up single target skill could be useful in giving the support character and tank character some synergy for example but this wouldn't work too well if your game's battle system isn't entirely designed with the intention of party synergy being important. If the synergistic options are just that, options, then the player will likely overlook them in favour of other options and hence that single target skill does become worthless to some percentage of your players.
 

duty

Keepin' it simple
Veteran
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
117
Reaction score
125
First Language
English (US)
Primarily Uses
RMMV
The single target, single turn buff seems like a risk vs reward mechanism for proper planning and timing.

If battles are unpredictable, then getting the most out of the 1 target 1 turn buff is a function of luck, and doesn't really reward the player's choices.
 

gstv87

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2015
Messages
2,243
Reaction score
1,236
First Language
Spanish
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Since you cannot usually predict what skill the enemy will use
key premise there.
if you will have 1-turn buffs, and the gameplay depends on that, then you need a good AI system that will account for that.
I have a number of debuffs that cause 1-turn disabilities on the enemies, so coupling those debuffs with player buffs, you get to build some interesting combos.
one of the first things I changed when I built the character roster, was that the enemy AI should be predictable, and as a result of that the LUK stat was removed.
if it's all down to LUK, then there's no strategy, and without strategy, character building is irrelevant, and with no characters there's no story..... so might as well be gambling with dice and poker chips, and it'll be all the same.
 

Frostorm

[]D[][]V[][]D aka "Staf00"
Veteran
Joined
Feb 22, 2016
Messages
1,516
Reaction score
1,108
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Most of the single target/turn skills I've implemented are defensive skills. Riposte, for example, increases Counter chance by 100% for 1 turn. Well, that one is a self-target skill. Another example would be an immunity spell that happens to be single-target and lasts 1 turn. These kinds of skills should definitely have a cooldown though.
 

Basileus

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 18, 2013
Messages
310
Reaction score
446
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
> "Consequently, as a general rule, and as a general principle of good game design, would you say that single-target buffs should last for at least several turns?"

As a principle of good game design, I would say that no, single-target buffs do not automatically warrant lasting several turns. Good game design would still require those buffs to actually be worth the turn to cast them however, and take variables into account to make sure the player can get use out of the buff in most cases.

A good example of this is the Charge status in Persona games. It's usually a 2.5x modifier to the damage of the next spell/attack of the target and so it will almost always do more damage than simply casting the same spell twice. The Quality of Life change here is that the buff will last multiple turns but only if the target doesn't (or can't) attack. This adds a little spice to the spell cycling in Persona games since it means that you can Charge first and then apply Attack Up/Defense Down spells - which are limited by a number of turns - to set up bigger burst turns.

For an example of true 1 turn buffs, I think Fate/Grand Order does this well. Buffs/Debuffs are almost always either 1 turn or 3 turns with 1 turn effects having a higher value than 3 turn effects, and single-target actions generally having higher value than area-of-effect actions. A skill like Charisma offers a decent 10-20% attack buff to the party for 3 turns and is on a 5 turn cooldown at max rank, making it a nice general boost to damage that applies to all attack types. But a skill like Mana Burst offers a big 30-50% increase to Buster card damage for 1 turn on a 5 turn cooldown at max rank. This makes skill timing important - if you use the 3 turn buff just because you can then it might not be available on the turn you want to use the 1 turn buff, so the player needs to consider when to use skills to optimize damage. FGO encourages this thinking by giving enemies a special meter that fills at the end of each turn and triggers a special ability after 3-5 turns (depending on enemy type). This type of enemy pattern helps the player to plan several turns ahead and makes those big one-turn buffs important since the player often needs a big burst turn to take out an enemy that's about to use their special.

I would say that communicating information to the player is the most important thing. If the player doesn't know the difference in magnitude of the effects, or doesn't have a way to identify enemy patterns, then a 1 turn buff might feel frustrating. But you can ease that frustration with good communication so the player can figure out the timing to use those skills instead of just throwing them out randomly and hoping they are useful.
 

Joewoof

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 28, 2015
Messages
121
Reaction score
56
First Language
English
From my experience, the average player ignores buffs in general, regardless of their impact on the game. Sure, veterans like us might see their benefit very clearly when the damage numbers rise a great deal, but you cannot assume that most people are veteran strategists. Don't forget that a lot of RPG gamers still resort to grinding as the default strategy rather than try to use skill synergies.

When testing my RPGs, I've often found that despite having all these wonderful skills and optimal strategies, a lot of players just mash Attack. They only use something else if attacking blindly fails, or just grind until attacking blindly succeeds. Unfortunately.

With that in mind, a single-turn buff is probably a bad idea. Worse, think of the underwhelming opportunity cost of using a buff. Deal damage right now in an attack, or do essentially nothing for 1 turn.

Octopath Traveler solves this problem pretty well with its Boost System, where buffing attacks have no turn cost. In other words, the buff doesn't cause you to lose your chance to perform an attack immediately this turn.

Additionally, what I would do to solve the innate "boring nature" of buff abilities is to treat them differently than "just buffs". For example, instead of an ability that raises attack by 150%, it should instead cause a fire "after-effect" that causes damage after doing an attack. This way, the player who doesn't care about buffs (due to their less-perceptible impact), have a better reason for doing so since the buff feels like an attack itself. Mechanically, it might be no different than a buff, but player perception is very important.
 

darthmarth

Grail-Seeker
Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
With that in mind, a single-turn buff is probably a bad idea. Worse, think of the underwhelming opportunity cost of using a buff. Deal damage right now in an attack, or do essentially nothing for 1 turn.
Opportunity cost is a huge thing. If you have a 1-turn status effect, you need to either make casting it a bonus action (and thus not miss out on a turn by using the skill), or make it so that the status can make the following single turn at least twice as effective as two normal turns would be.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts


My only regret is the portal mirror effect is too subtle to show up in these GIFs. It probably just needs more sparkles. :LZSwink:
Microsoft: Hey, let's waste money advertising the Xbox Series X when nobody has any in stock, we don't seem to be making more, we aren't taking preorders and you can't get on a waiting list. BEST. IDEA. EVER.
So I'm practicing ITC with a spirit box, and decide to try to contact my deceased soulmate. It actually gave me multiple identifiers. Me, still a bit skeptical, asked aloud "Fine but does he still love me?" and the box spoke and printed the word "Forever" at the same time. Been a mess of tears since. :kaocry:
Been scratching away at my game and making progress, but just had a revelation. I'm working in full screen and adjusting all my pictures accordingly, but will they resize if someone's screen is smaller?? I hope this doesn't turn out to be a problem later.

Forum statistics

Threads
105,633
Messages
1,015,134
Members
137,293
Latest member
Greencat
Top