Status ailments that persist after the battle end

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by jonthefox, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    When I consider design of status ailments, I tend toward making them end after the battle. This is because I find status ailments to work best when they present strategic problems and choices for the particular battle in which they occur. Usually, status ailments that persist after battle are just an annoyance, or simple economy-check ("If you have more than X antidotes then you're ok; otherwise you're not") which rarely feels good for the player. Making status effects more powerful, but confined to a specific battle, eliminates a lot of the points of frustration while still giving them both the feel and function of high impact and strategic depth.

    With all that said, I want to ask this: can you think of situations where it adds an interesting and enjoyable aspect to gameplay for a status effect to persist after a battle? The stereotypical example would be going through a dungeon, and there's a particular type of enemy that you can encounter...This enemy is weak, but inflicts a status effect that persists after battle until cured. This makes this enemy a kind of threat. Perhaps the player would want to run away from this type of encounter, if they are low on items that would remove this status effect.

    What do you think as a designer - when would it be beneficial or interesting or fun for the player to have status effects persist after the battle, or do you think that mechanic is just a nostalgic (if not annoying) relic of the past?
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Status ailments that persist for unchangeable party member is just annoyance. However if you have more larger roster though, it might work. One party member is get poisoned, they need to get treated, or else it just get worse. Maybe you need to send them back home, and use another party member. This will be a game about picking party members to do a mission. Each mission could be using different party members.
     
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  3. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    In my game, the only status ailment that I had persist after battle was Disease, which lowers all stats by 15%. It's a small annoyance in the early game as at that point your stats are between 20 and 50 depending on class and equipment. As it is, most of the monsters that can inflict it are really slow, so you can figure out who they are and gang up on them in battle and take them out before they even get a chance to infect you.

    As for all the others, I had them be removed after battle. Even KO. I also removed the no EXP if KO'd thing as well as I feel that one is really stupid, as if you are unlucky enough to get KO'd on the last turn of a boss battle, you get nada, and that lost EXP can really put that character behind too, especially if that boss gives out a lot of EXP.
     
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  4. Aoi Ninami

    Aoi Ninami Veteran Veteran

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    Yeah, I allow KO'd members to gain experience as well. If EXP is meant to represent becoming better at using your weapon with practice, then it should definitely count if you were there for most of a fight and got knocked out at the end. And with KO being removed after battle, it's impossible to go into a fight knocked out and miss all of it.
     
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  5. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    My instinct is to say that it's always better to remove status effects automatically after battle, for exactly the reasons you said (annoyance, economy check, ability to make it powerful enough to affect the battle itself without breaking balance). Even with a lot of second-thought, I definitely come to the same conclusion in general - without a good reason to do otherwise, it's definitely better to remove status effects automatically after battle - especially if that status effect is a full disable or a poison!

    Here are a few examples of times it might be good design to allow status effects to persist beyond the end of a battle, to play devil's advocate:
    • The entire game design is based around the idea of surviving status effects that stack up over the course of multiple battles (usually best when there is a fixed, small number of battles in each dungeon) - I've never seen this done, but it would be possible, and could be an interesting way to encourage aggressive play (thus quick battles)
    • A dungeon-wide gimmick incorporates the status effect - for example, clues lead the player to choose one of three doors as a soft 'puzzle', and if they choose the wrong one, they encounter a monster that inflicts a state that reduces their DEF by 10% until they leave/complete the dungeon (note that this can be used for positive status effects as well!)
    • The status effect is positive, and it is the effect of an uncommon, expensive, or crafted item - for example, in some Star Ocean games, eating "food"-type items outside of battle usually restores HP/MP, and also grants a positive status effect (like higher ATK or bonus EXP) for five battles or so, and I think that's pretty neat
     
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  6. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    Yes, I agree that making a good use of status outside of battle is very situational.

    I can try and think of some specific ways...
    How about...

    1. Status effects need for activation. Some skill or fighting style might be available with status effect similar to a berserker. In this kind of system, a mage may get double bonus for some magic skill when affected with blindness, and keeping blindness on can be better than keep them cure after battle for a mage-run dungeon.

    2. Status Opposition. Maybe in some game, there are a lot of status effects and some status might prevent other statuses. For example, a game can have variety of poison, but each poison cannot be afflicted at the same time. Keeping a small-fry poison from the tiny toad at the beginning of the dungeon may prove useful against snakes with more vicious venom status deep inside, especially if it's a game where antidote resources are quite scarce.

    3. A shaman char. Maybe, there's a char who can move their own status effect onto other battlers. Accumulating many bad statuses from battles to finally inflict them to the area's boss might be a hilarious strategy to some.

    4. ......actually, I'm out of gases, lol.

    As you can see, these are very very specifically weird situation, lol.


    But to be frank, I wouldn't want to deal with stats after battle, too.
     
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  7. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    It's an annoying/nostalgic remnant of the past as far as I'm concerned, especially poisons that continue to sap away a character's health with every step. In order to minimize menu time for the player after every fight, I have all ailments (even KO) set to expire after battle, and am entertaining the idea of having party members heal to full hp/mp after every battle as well.

    The only states I can see being allowed to persist are auto-passive states (thanks yanfly!) or any special/hidden states meant for secondary purposes. For example, you have a deadly, but blind shambling monster in a hallway with a powerful sense of smell. You can only sneak past it by masking your smell somehow, and luckily, one of the random enemies in the area is a sludge monster that occasionally belches goo all over the party. Get belched on, apply state to everyone, and if everyone has the state, allow them to sneak past the blind monster without smelling like tasty humans. Yaay.
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    Just a really quick segue since it sounds like you're unsure whether to make the jump to fully healing characters after every battle: if the most significant effect that would come out of such a change is indeed "the player will spend a lot less time on the menu after each fight", then I would strongly recommend going for the full heal. You can think of it as a quality-of-life bonus.

    The scenario where the full heal wouldn't be appropriate is if the player would reasonably choose not to "heal up" after each combat (not out of laziness/avoiding the "chore" of visiting the menu, but out of an actual strategic decision). You'll often find this kind of dynamic in RPGs where healing is hard to come by (or it's expensive, or the party's inventory has a very tight limit) and dungeons are designed to grind you down over the course of many encounters. More common in older games than modern ones, but a few newer games do still use this dynamic.
     
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  9. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Yeah, with the setup I have, there isn't any real strategic reason to not heal up. Compared to most RM games I've seen, MP is pretty easy to get back throughout battle in my game (both by fairly-inexpensive potions or even by abilities) so there's no "I need to save my MP" gradual wear-down going on.

    Honestly, the only real reason I have against after-battle healup is because I want to utilize save points--or rather, refresh points--as a way to remind players that something big is coming up so that they known to save if they haven't already. Since I'm going to allow saving anywhere, healing players after battle would pretty much make these things worthless. I dunno, maybe I'll use them as rapid-transit waypoints, grant shop access through them, or something?
     
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  10. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I actually use both types. I initially did it as a form of "realism". Any state that could reasonably be cured by just spending a few minutes after combat to fix it... is cured when battle concludes. Other states that would require some sort of actual medical care... they persist.

    After toying with it a while, I learned that this had an effect on other aspects of my combat that I rather enjoyed. It applied pressure to the player and reinforced the notion that they should be spending their time and money on becoming more effective in combat and in dealing with states as quickly as possible. It also created a "balancing" mechanic in terms of the States I had.

    For example, "Paralyze" is incurable in any capacity except via consumable or combat end. I decided that it was relatively simple to fix someone paralyzed when you weren't under the stress of combat. This has the benefit of making the state extremely deadly in combat and forces players to devote actions to clearing it, otherwise they are effectively down a combatant. Believe it or not, this is in line with the "weaker" States that can stack. Level 1 Poison only does 2% HP damage each turn to a character. It's miniscule, except at low levels where every HP matters. But, all the Poison States can be stacked (for a whopping -37% HP drain a turn) and they persist after combat. They do wear off "automatically" in combat, but it's a chance they wear off after a set amount of turns. This forces the player to manage their resources outside of battle, or to clear their states before battle ends.

    This presents a form of strategic choice. States can be waited out, but the criteria is different. Some end immediately after combat concludes. Others persist afterwards. The most powerful ones only end after combat. the more weak and manageable ones persist after combat. In this way, there are ways to get the states cured without the use of items, but the player has to make that choice. Do they bring along the necessary Consumables, or do they count on just "brute force" to get them through to the end? This is especially important in my game since healing of any kind is... well... difficult to come by. There are two "healing" skills the players have access to in the entire game. One is a "self heal" that starts at a whopping 10% of total HP cured and tops out at 40%. It cannot be used on anyone except the caster. The other is a "revive entire party from death" skill that is a Limit Break, which consumes 100 TP to cast. The goal is to make the player spend their GP on Consumables and to spend turns in combat to cure their characters. In this way, losing HP isn't just a "minor inconvenience that makes me heal up once every 30 or so combat turns" and being inflicted with a state isn't just, "it's a minor debuff that amounts to a slight annoyance and barely noticeable combat prowess reduction". it's a very real and possibly very deadly aspect of the combat system. Being ill prepared inside and outside of battle can lead to losing.

    All of that last paragraph also feeds into the main reason I implemented States in this way. To create a Gold Sink. If the player is never required to remove states on their own. If states are easily overcome by simply winning combat... or are not powerful enough in combat to actually change the flow of combat and the priorities of players... Players will accumulate Gold endlessly and for no reason. By the end of the game, they'll have several million in Currency and absolutely nothing to spend it on. Chests and Monster Drops will have easily and quickly supplied them with enough Consumables to manage any fight, including the boss fights. That's not even getting into MP heals and state cures being ridiculously overpowered and extremely efficient (most standard RPG's make MP healing at a minimum of 6x more efficient in terms of gold investment to do so, MP cost to do so, and availability of those spells to do so... as well as making them multi-target, than it is to ever buy a single Potion, even at 1 GP a pop). I want the feeling that if a player is buying an Antidote... it is because they know it is necessary to some degree. It is a strategic decision outside of combat. It is preparing to cure a state that is debilitating. Not a minor inconvenience. Not an annoyance. Not an "economy check". A seriously life-threatening aspect of combat that the player must always be prepared to deal with as a matter of course. If you get the state "Burn", the player should make a serious decision about either curing it or "rolling the dice" on trying to wait it out or win combat and cure it after combat is over, so as not to waste a turn in combat trying to cure it.

    My personal opinion on states is thus: If you are going to cure them after combat... Then they need to be as powerful as being hit with an extra attack DURING COMBAT in order to even justify their existence. Because, if they're just a slight annoyance... or a minor inconvenience... and you can cure them by simply mashing attack and winning combat... Why do they exist at all? Why do the restoratives for them exist at all? Why should players spend turns and MP curing them?

    You should take a Cue from Pokémon. States in the main game are basically "easily ignored" except for Sleep and Poison. You can mash attack to get through them and suffer pretty much zero consequences. Things like "confusion" are far more deadly than Poison. Same with "Attract" (the game's version of Charming... which can cause your Pokémon to ignore all commands and just take hits... depending on how nice RNGesus is to you). States are so underpowered and pointless in Pokémon that only two or three are even used in COMPETITIVE PVP of the game... and it's only the most effective ones (Paralyze, super poison Toxic which hurts you more and more each turn you have it, and Sleep... but they often put rules in place for Sleep since it is so stupidly broken and overpowered that to let a player use it on every one of your Pokémon is a guaranteed win for them) while the others get pretty much ignored. Players don't even need to use the plentiful "fix the state" items in Pokémon in the Main Campaign, because the states aren't really worth curing most of the time. Nobody goes into a shop and buys Paralyze Heals. Or Burn Heals. Not even newbie little kid players who don't even know about the Element Type Matchups.

    If you make your states easily ignored, just remove states altogether. Otherwise, if you're bothering to remove them when combat concludes... they should be VERY powerful to warrant that. So that each state is a "race against the clock" and adds "pressure" to combat so that the cure after the battle isn't simply your means of creating "Easy Mode" and is instead an actual respite for the player.

    Just my two cents.
     
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  11. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    Sounds to me like you should go for the full heal after battle! If you want to cue players to visit the save/menu screens before a boss battle, you could use audiovisual cues - natural ones like the screen growing progressively darker and the music fading into something more ominous as you walk down the final passage of the dungeon toward the boss (I personally like this approach because it's exciting and doesn't break immersion), or even obvious ones like a special symbol onscreen (or on the minimap) which implies the boss is through the door. If you want to be really obvious, you could even force-open the menu screen at the same place you'd normally lay a save/refresh point; explain it the first time and the player will get it from then on.

    Alternatively, if all you need to do is make sure that the player won't lose progress if they lose the boss fight, you could add a Retry feature to the boss combats, which comes with the added bonus of not requiring you to add a lot of additional eventing to give the player the option to skip pre-boss cutscenes on their second (and third and fourth) attempt. The one weakness of this approach is that it doesn't give the player a cue to visit the menu to prepare for the combat, but if you have a full heal after each battle anyway, they probably won't need to! =)

    I do agree that Gold Sink is one of the better justifications for not curing all negative states at the end of combat, but just wanted to point out another, similar approach to Gold Sinking that should accomplish the same ends with less potential to annoy the player.

    If states are cured at the end of combat, they can generally be designed to be more effective within that one battle, and therefore they can make it so that the party will take more damage, or be forced to expend more MP, during the battle. In theory, this means that the states (even when they don't persist) will force the player to buy and use more HP and MP restoration items, effectively creating a gold sink - and it does so in a natural, elegant way that works alongside standard enemy damage spells (which can sink gold in the same way).

    In practice, this requires two extra design elements that aren't always seen in RPGs, and if either one is missing, the whole thing falls apart (and persistent status effects probably become a more effective Sink):
    • The MP cost of healing spells needs to be expensive enough that it can be worthwhile to use other spells (high damage spells, disables, etc.) to finish off enemies quickly and thus prevent damage, rather than saving MP, taking damage, and healing up after combat
    • The Gold cost of Consumables to restore HP and MP (including Revives) needs to be expensive enough to drain a reasonable amount of the player's account at any point in the game. Most games have cheap early-game potions that can still be used during the late-game (where you've got tons of gold) outside of combat for economic efficiency, so you'd need to avoid this approach by either:
      • Making consumables consistently expensive throughout the game (based on late-game economy) and balancing the early game so that you need very few of them, or
      • Using a very flat curve to scale your economy, so that, for example, your late-game monsters award only 2 to 3 times as much cash as early-game monsters (instead of 20 or 100 times as much), and the consumables that are moderately expensive early still don't feel super-cheap later on, or
      • Not offering cheap consumables in the late game, either by not allowing the player to backtrack to previous towns, or by increasing the price of consumables in all the games shops as the player makes progress through the narrative
    Absolutely true! Good designers will be sure to design their states in a way that they can be situationally better or worse than a straight-up damage spell with a similar cost.

    The last flagship Pokemon game I played was Silver, but if my memory of those early generations serves me well, I remember other ailments like Confusion and Freeze being very powerful and punishing if ignored - it was just that these states could not be inflicted with anything resembling reliability, and you could also swap out a confused/frozen Pokemon with the status continuing to wear off while they're on your bench. (Am I remembering wrong?)

    In a battle system where it's possible to inflict these non-persistent States more reliably, and where you can't just swap out characters mid-combat, I do think that states similar to Confusion and Freeze tend to feel a lot more consequential.
     
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  12. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    In my current main project, all status ailments end after battle with the exception of one: Wounded.
    Wounded decreases MaxHP by 5%, but it can stack. Both "healing" classes have a HP restore that also removes Wounded, but if the player didn't select a "healing" class, then your option to remove Wounded is either rest at an Inn, or wait for it to heal itself (which is does, after X amount of turns in battles).

    It's not game breaking, but if not treated swiftly and with multiple stacks, it can make some battles very difficult.

    -MIA
     
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  13. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I'm completely okay with KO persisting after combat (most games do have that), but anything else I find being an annoyance. Especially if it drains HP or whatever while walking on the world map.
     
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  14. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I know that it's generally accepted practice to "not annoy the player... ever... for any reason... because they may dislike your game if they have to deal with something". It's just not generally something I accept. I don't like "coddling" the player on the premise that they may become slightly annoyed that they actually have to do something in a game and can't just "play on automatic" and "win by virtue of playing". I operate under the assumption that all players will see the "Game Over" screen at least 5 times in an entire playthrough. Why? Because if the game is so easy that they never see the screen... that they never have to reload... that they never have to deal with possibility of facing that screen and reloading... Then why have HP at all? Or skills? Or combat?

    That's not to say I think we should go out of our way to frustrate players at every opportunity and ramp up difficulty to the level of Dark Souls... But, I think enough difficulty that a player can never become complacent should be the ideal design philosophy.

    As for the issue with resolving the states after combat... I see it really as only an alternative to what I'm doing. Except... well... pick an RPG and it's more Resource Efficient to heal via MP consumption than anything else. People don't buy Health Potions. Not when they can get more out of an MP Potion. To even make that point, you'd have to do a 1 to 1 resource ratio on both types of healing and curing. That means, you either have to jack up the prices of your MP Consumables to fall in line with the prices of your Status/HP Consumables... or jack up the MP costs of those restorative skills to fall in line with those prices.

    If you do neither, then you haven't created a Gold Sink at all. In fact, you've only convinced yourself that you have.

    Not that I'm disagreeing entirely here. I do think States are better served if they have more power here as you suggest (I suggested the same if we were going to cure them after combat in order to make them more prominent in combat and a more dynamic/interesting combat system).

    I just think that your point of view here is different than mine. I see it as "doesn't actually solve the problem as it doesn't actually create a Gold Sink" and "I feel that you're coddling the players". We could argue the first point about it actually creating a Gold Sink as we could trot out a lot of data for or against the statement. But, the "coddling the players" thing is going to simply boil down to Personal Opinion. As such, we cannot treat is as fact. We can only treat it as a crotchety old man (33!) complaining about games being too easy these days and participation trophies.

    Yep, I agree with a good chunk of this. That MP cost of healing and restoring states needs to fall more in line with the cost of the Consumables. If it doesn't, then there is no reason to buy consumables and only a reason to buy MP potions... which last longer, are more versatile in combat (healing everyone of a state all at once... healing everyone all at once... costing 6x less in terms of currency spent per heal... etcetera).

    The main flaw is simply in allowing the player to cheaply remove their mistakes via the MP Pool. Pretty much all RPG games I've played in the last 20 years embrace this. It is more economical to heal with MP and restore MP potions than it EVER is to buy even a "Phoenix Down" at the cost of 100 GP. Even if your Life spell costs 40 MP... you can get a Tier 2 MP restore potion for like 150 Gold and it could usually restore 80 of your MP (I'm giving the game dev the benefit of the doubt and trying to say you get limited amount of MP back so Life would be expensive in terms of MP). Even then, you're still getting a "recover from death" at 75 Gold a pop instead of the 100. It's cheaper even at THESE ridiculous prices and restore amounts. To even bring it in line with that Skill, your "Phoenix Down" to restore someone from KO would have to cost 75 Gold as well. Even then... Players don't purchase MP Restoratives on the assumption that they're going to use them for just healing or removing states. They purchase them on the promise that Magic is more versatile and that MP could be used for anything. It can even be used to limit the amount of damage you take to begin with. Or do a lot of damage to enemies and kill them quickly so you spend less time in combat... which effectively nullifies your States and Damage as well. MP is simply a more universally cost effective system in any RPG. MP restoring consumables are always insanely cheap for how overly broken any given Magic System is in an RPG.

    To be honest, I just pair my "States" with skills that damage. This is for two reasons. 1. I don't want players to feel like they're "wasting a turn" by inflicting a state on even a Standard Enemy. 2. Since my Skills "level up" as you go along, the option for players who prefer to play with the very powerful states is in the game as an option. You aren't required to ever use a state on an enemy to win. They can make winning a lot easier, but they are never mandatory.

    On the enemy end of the spectrum, they can and do have skills that do no damage, but inflict the powerful States. Simply because MP Cost isn't necessarily a concern for them, since most will die in 4 hits or so (or 1 turn if the player knows what they're doing... or is powerful enough). So, having some of those states persist after battle also allows enemies that wouldn't normally pose a problem... to actually pose a problem. If an enemy can only drain 1/20th of your health with each attack, but you can kill it in the first turn with two attacks (50% or more of it's HP damage), then it poses no threat at all. However, if it can drop Level 4 Poison onto a character before you kill it... Now, you need to cure the State that does 20% HP damage to you and lasts 12-15 turns. That weak monster is now deadly in some way, despite your stats having outclassed it. You still have to focus your attention on it. Work around it. Be prepared for it.

    To be honest... I don't remember if Frozen could ever be cured "on the bench". I remember it having a chance to cure on its own... and a greater chance to cure if hit with a Fire Type attack. But, so few moves consistently inflict it, even in current gen... that it's not really counted on all that much. It's more reliable to inflict Attract, Confusion, accuracy dropping moves, and Sleep. In fact, dropping "Sleep" on Pokémon is so ridiculously easy that there's often the "Sleep Clause" in any tournament which says you can't put any more than like one Pokémon to sleep on the opponent's team at any one time. Putting Pokémon to sleep is insanely easy (there are a TON of moves that most Pokémon can learn to be able to do it, and the rate of inflicting it with any of those moves is very high) and is very powerful. In fact, because of the "Sleep Clause", most players simply inflict "Paralyze" instead, as you can hit the entire enemy team with it... and it's got like a 50% chance of making sure the enemy Pokémon doesn't act that turn. It's stupidly broken.

    @Milennin

    You're talking about "slip damage". Yeah, I don't enable that. As much as I want to give my players a challenge and make them cure States between battles... I feel like "slip damage" from walking with the states is "too much". At that point, your state really does become an "economy check", as your characters really will die if you don't cure it, even if you disable all encounters and try to walk back to town. Dying by slip damage is less about "being prepared" and more about "getting unlucky" most of the time. At least... in my opinion.[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
     
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  15. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    I don't think that it's unfair nor terrible to keep characters KO'd after combat, but if you don't have a way to revive the character, it ends up making it extremely hard to press on within the dungeon being short a member (and if they don't receive EXP, they may fall very far behind if you do press on). For that reason, I like it when characters are revived after combat with 1 HP, even if they lose out on EXP for that one battle. This allows you to heal them the same way that you'd heal any injured character.

    In timeblazer I offer full heals after combat, because all of the game's fights are boss fights. Keeping a character alive through the end of combat is awarded by them leveling up after combat, and gaining a new skill.

    Something I plan to try for a future game called How Badly is having characters' "stamina" (essentially a temporary Max HP stat) slowly decrease over time (by a portion of damage taken) after being wounded, which stops decreasing if combat ends. Heals would be extremely efficient against spike damage, but would not restore stamina. Only resting at an Inn, or eating consumable items outside of combat, would relieve stamina you lost throughout a dungeon. After a battle in which you're KO'ed, a character would be restored to their minimum of 10% of their max stamina.

    I feel you are seeing a false equivalence between challenge and annoyance, Tai.

    Challenge - difficulty - the ability to make mistakes (and find yourself on the losing end because of it) - that's not usually the kind of stuff that frustrates players. What annoys players the most tends to be either (1) difficulty that comes in unfair forms, such as RNG-based one-shots, badly-designed difficulty spikes, and situations that the player could not see coming and can't do anything about after the face (see: Sierra games), (2) single instances that can't be overcome by improving skill, such as an arbitrary puzzle or a luck-based mission, or (3) "whack-a-mole" aspects that do not present any form of challenge, but require the player to frequently do something menial to deal with, such as hunger systems in narrative-based games.

    Status ailments that persist outside of combat often fall under category (3) where they are not truly a threat to most players, but the player has to continually visit the menu and cure each character before returning to exploration, or category (2) where, if the status is crippling enough, and it's inflicted 7 times throughout the dungeon whereas the player only had 5 cures on hand, they're going to feel that their general skill with combat wasn't rewarded properly and now they have to backtrack all the way back to town or die.

    While we don't want to give the player super-easy outs to all of these things, I was pointing out in my last post that a similar level of challenge (with less annoyance) can be achieved with more powerful status effects that are cured at the end of combat.

    Yes - it's an alternative way to handle it, not a radical opposite. I feel it allows more somewhat more intuitive gameplay and less annoyance to the player, which is why I recommended examining the approach of powerful statuses that resolve after combat (but theoretically cause your party to lose more HP/resources during the combat).

    Total agreement here! You need to balance the economy of healing - either with MP costs of healing skills that tend to break even with the MP costs of spells that reduce damage by a similar amount (by ending the battle quicker), or with Gold costs of MP recovery items that break even with the Gold costs of HP recovery items that could be used in place of healing skills. Otherwise, it becomes easy to cheese the system by using healing skills to fully heal your party and then occasionally using an Ether to restore all the MP you used.

    Most RPGs get this totally wrong, but that doesn't mean that we can't do better!

    Persona is an interesting example. The MP costs of healing skills are pretty low, but items that restore MP are extremely rare, so the only reliable way to restore it is to leave the dungeon and end the day (you only have a limited number of in-game days to complete dungeons). Additionally, MP is required to use elemental damage skills that hit enemy weaknesses and knock them down (which makes combat a lot easier). For these reasons, it can be a good choice to spend your limited money on HP healing items and conserve your MP within dungeons.

    I've designed a couple of games where healing skills are extremely MP-expensive, to the point where sometimes (but not always) your MP is better spent to defeat enemies quicker before they can damage you in the first place.

    The approach I mentioned above for How Badly would also solve this design issue by giving healing skills and health-restoring consumable items completely different roles - the former prevents you from getting spiked to 0 HP and KO'ed, whereas the latter restores your stamina so you don't need to start battles at lower than your true Max HP. This would allow cheap, powerful healing skills while still encouraging/requiring the player to stock up on consumable items as a gold sink.

    That feeling when a millennial describes himself as a crotchety old man!! :D (I feel you, brother... I'm just a stone's throw from 33 myself.)

    As to arguing the first point, I think that's mostly addressed by my point above - the economies of healing need to be designed well to have an actual gold sink. I have to admit that most games do not balance their healing economies well, but it can be done and occasionally it has been done.

    As to "coddling", it's mostly a matter of personal opinion like you said, but I do want to point out that annoyance type (3) tends to be something that all designers should avoid, and this isn't really a matter of coddling, just of quality-of-life for your player.

    Yep, this is a good encapsulation of the problem with cheap, powerful, unrestricted healing skills. It's more efficient to make the mistake and heal it up afterwards, than to prevent the mistake in the first place.

    One interesting example worth mentioning is a SAO game I'm currently enjoying (Accel World vs. Sword Art Online). It's an action RPG, and the heal skills take several seconds to cast in combat (with the hope being that your allies can draw enemy fire for a bit, or that you can escape to a safe corner of the battlefield). In ordinary combat, this design problem is out in full force: enemies don't present enough of a kill threat to ever use healing items - you just dust the enemy mob, and then heal up afterwards (especially since MP regenerates naturally). But in boss combat, where taking a few hits can mean a character is KO'ed, having and using Healing Crystal consumables (which only take about a second to use) becomes really important when you don't have five seconds to cast a healing spell. These items aren't expensive enough to represent a real gold sink, but the concept is there.

    What's cool about this is that (unlike status removal items) it can create an intuitive gold sink without punishing your player for not having specific items! If MP-restoring items are moderately expensive, and using MP (rather than items) is how the game has you heal, remove status effects, and deal really high amounts of damage, and dungeons and troops are carefully designed to force the player to need some MP-restoring items to run the harder dungeons, then you have a really elegant gold sink on your hands. Getting hit with a specific persistent status effect will never be a dungeon-ender, but over time, making too many little mistakes in combat will eventually run your MP low and tax your inventory.
     
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  16. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I'm not really sure it falls under false equivalence. I mean, at what point is it acceptable for a player to be healing states outside of combat? Sometimes? Always? Never? Most of the time? Rarely? Many arguments, even on these forums, tend towards "rarely" or "never".

    Personally, I think it falls under "The player should be prepared". Though, this does require the Dev be prepared as well. I know we've spoken about my Dungeon that teaches the player about Poison before. I'd like to speak on that a little again, just as an example.

    Before the player is allowed into the dungeon, they need to meet minimum criteria (notably, they've picked up their second party member) or they've managed to cobble together 10 Antidotes. These two criteria aren't meant to effectively gate the area and allow a player to get to the end. They are "soft requirements". That is to say... The player has picked up another character so their DPT (Damage Per Turn) has increased and so they are better prepared to quickly kill the enemies... or... they've recognized that they need Antidotes and have gone out of their way to purchase the 10 necessary to doing the Dungeon itself (essentially, forgoing the second character and making a conscious decision to take on the stated challenge).

    Even further, the player is presented with shops and opportunities to pick up "Poison Resist" and "Poison Immunity" equipment if they so wish to use it in the Dungeon. This can reduce the chances of being inflicted with all poisons... Or it can nullify a single level of the Poison state. An item might nullify Poison 1, so most enemies can't poison you... But, it does nothing against Poison 2, so the rare enemies that have the more powerful version can still Poison you. Likewise, they can obtain another item that works in reverse... Immunity to Poison 2, but not to Poison 1.

    I think it's appropriate to properly sign post to your player these States and allow them an opportunity to succeed. If they ignore (or don't find/buy) the Poison Resist equipment... Is it my fault that they need to open the menu after every battle and pop an Antidote? If they decided that 10 Antidotes would likely be enough and not bother to "over prepare" of their own initiative, is that my fault? Even if the player is warned that the place crawls with Poison inflicting monsters?

    I don't think a dev should design a game that ensures the players need to do that monotonous thing after every battle (recover from Poison! yay!). I think the dev should design a game that if the player doesn't play well... doesn't adhere to the lessons you've been teaching them... doesn't listen to your signposting... Then that monotonous thing is their fault. That annoyance is their fault. Their frustration is their own fault.

    Likewise, those players should be buying the consumables from every point of the game after you've taught them about it. The lesson shouldn't end just because you think you've taught it well. Being prepared for those states should always be a concern to the player. Curing them when they come up, even occasionally, should be a priority. This is part of any combat tactics. Keeping your characters in fighting condition. Equipping things that keep players from being inflicted with those States that may persist after combat.

    Personally, I just don't know where that line is drawn. When does it become, "This is a good design choice" and cease being "something that annoys the player"? At what point should the player be expected to take personal responsibility and not tackle challenges they aren't ready for... or to be able to stock themselves up on the things they need without being told to do so or forced to do so? I simply see no real line. If the player cannot be expected to be personally responsible for healing up after each Combat and curing states... Why does it matter what you let them equip? I see removing States as part of that loop of "making tactical decisions outside of combat to ensure victories in combat".

    Though, honestly, a dev should never inflict states on players that they have no reasonable way of either avoiding or curing. They should not drop Paralyze on you before you ever get the item that cures it or the equipment that helps prevent it.

    However, I see nothing wrong with a player abandoning a Dungeon or a Quest for a little while because they've realized that they're not all that prepared. Or, even, powering through that Dungeon or Quest despite not being prepared in order to achieve victory through their own wits. Though, I've seen it argued that if a player has to "turn back" to "level up some more" or "get more supplies" that this is "bad game design". I don't know that I agree, as long as you aren't forcing a player to do those things... If they've done it once and thus they are ahead of the curve from then on... That's good game design. Curing a state after every single combat after that just means the player wasn't as prepared as they could've or should've been.

    I'm not really sure if that translates into any sort of intelligent game design or not. Or, if there's some term with it. It's just my personal beliefs, and they're reflected in the kind of game I'd like to play and like to design. As the phrase goes, "It is what it is".

    I just think that this would work better if you designed a 1 to 1 ratio of gold spent to healing. Not in terms of creating a Gold Sink, but simply in terms of putting the player under pressure. Sure, battle ends, they are cleared of all States and are "breathing easy" again, but being hit with those states during combat and having to decide to spend valuable resources to cure those devastating effects would have to be a mandatory aspect of combat. If at any point, the player can simply end combat before they've done very much to debilitate the character, those states have become worthless and useless. They no longer serve their purpose.

    I agree! We can do better! We should! We shouldn't be trying to use the "tried and true" stuff all the time. We should wildly experiment with existing game theory to craft our own. Create innovation ourselves! I see no shame in doing something and failing. A smart dev will figure out why they failed and rework it to remove problems... or try something else because they can't get it to work.

    That's the spirit I think we should all have.

    Personally, I think MP Healing of any kind should be expensive to prevent player spam. Though, adding expensive or rare MP restoring consumables might up to personal taste. I think it would work just fine without those items being rare or expensive on top of a sufficiently expensive MP cost for healing characters.

    Though, what if you could only use MP restoring consumables during combat and not outside of combat? Force the player to sacrifice an action to do so. It would mean that it didn't matter how cheap those items were... the cost would be in having to be in combat to restore your MP, which might make you less inclined to use it for Healing outside of combat... or removing states outside of combat.

    I think inflicting some annoyance on your player is acceptable. Letting that "annoyance" turn into "frustration" isn't acceptable. Most players can live with a little annoyance and inconvenience. Especially if they have the capacity to realize that it might be their fault and there is something they maybe should be doing to alleviate that. However, continually beating a player over the head with something when they have no reasonable way to solve the issue... That's frustration we should avoid.

    You know, it's interesting, but in MV, you could probably replicate this to an extent. If every Curative Skill (State curing or otherwise) would only go at the end of the combat turn... It would make the player consider the expediency of buying those items to use immediately. Sure, they could pop "Panacea" and cure all states... But, they would go at the end of the combat turn... and there's 5 enemies... and 3 other characters. Their action would only pop once they were the only one to go... and there's no way to ensure they wouldn't spend that next turn doing the same thing. Doing something like this might even give the players the idea that they should cure their states and such outside of combat with MP rather than items... and then cure states and such inside of combat with items instead, so that they can be done immediately.

    Yeah, I think that gold sink would work. Though, the dev would have to tweak prices to get it to properly drain the player's account so that they aren't ending up with millions of Currency by the end of the game (unless that's the goal of the game or the dev). Perhaps scale prices of some of those items with the player level? That way you could avoid "cheap consumable spam" outside of combat.

    Though, it might prioritize players into simply trying to get their MP as high as possible in order to be more efficient and remove your Gold Sink. Depending on the systems you've got in your game.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  17. mauvebutterfly

    mauvebutterfly Veteran Veteran

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    Having states that do both positive and negative things could allow for some strategic decisions if states persist after battle.

    In Final Fantasy VII speedruns the runner deliberately inflicts sadness on themselves using an item outside of combat. This state makes you take less damage but has your limit guage fill slower if I recall correctly.
     
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  18. Seirein

    Seirein Villager Member

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    My plan with Fallen Wings is to have some status effects persist after battle, but their duration does deplete outside of battle. None of the status effects are completely crippling to a character, so it's not a major inconvenience if you have to wait for someone's paralysis/silence (prevents physical/magical respectively) to wear off. The intention is to strike a balance between avoiding the annoyance of being stuck with a status effect and to have status treatment and prevention be worth using, instead of just "oh, X got paralyzed but I can just finish the battle anyway and it'll be fine".

    The same mechanic also applies to buffs on party members, which makes those spells more useful for shorter battles.
     
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  19. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    Not saying your system is wrong or bad, but if you think through what it will encourage players to do, it's worth asking: is your system encouraging the player to do things that are fun, or is it encouraging them to do tedious (though smart) things?
    • Will it encourage players to sit around and wait and/or move around uselessly in safe areas, in order to make negative status effects wear off?
    • Will it encourage players to "waste" turns at the end of a combat that is for all intents and purposes already won (e.g. one weak slime remains and you've already disabled it), so that negative status effects on their party will wear off?
    • Will it encourage players to "waste" turns at the end of combat with most of their characters so that characters who have buffs can use them on the entire party in preparation for next combat?
    • Will it encourage players to participate in additional regular encounters that they no longer find fun, before taking on a boss (or move on to a new screen where they think there may be a boss), in order to allow their negative status effects wear off?
     
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  20. Seirein

    Seirein Villager Member

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    It's funny that you ask if I thought my idea through when you think someone would get a status effect and just be able to wander around because there'd magically be no random encounters in the same area that they received a status effect in.
     
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