Using MP universally, or strictly for magic skills

Wavelength

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I find that RPG combat tends to work best with at least 3 resources (and generally no more than 5 resources), with HP, MP, TP, SP, Cooldowns, ATB meter, Limit Break meter, and so on all counting as resources. (The exception is Action Battle Systems, where it can work well with as few as one resource, HP.) Having at least 3 resources enables a lot of Incomparables, interesting tradeoffs, and differing priorities and different points within a battle.

So with that in mind, I might ask - what resources will Physical Combat-types use if they're not using MP? If there are other systems that gate their skill usage or give them interesting gameplay on their own, you can probably get rid of MP for those types (just be sure there's not a huge divide between the resource-neediness of mages and the resourceless, always-consistent nature of physical-types). If you don't have any of that, I wouldn't recommend removing MP from physical-types "just because MP doesn't make sense for them".
 

ave36

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My game has few, if any, physical techniques that are not Limit Breaks. Most of them are in the arsenal of the Thief and Ninja classes. Ninjutsu, however, is explicitly quasi-magical in my lore and uses elemental powers similar to those of the Battle Mage, so it is OK to use MP for ninja skills. Thievery is the only skillset left that is not magical in itself but inexpicably uses MP. I chose to ignore this little inconsistency.
 

Frogboy

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I added the ability to my Frog Health plugin to customize what each class's HP, MP and TP stats were named and abbreviated. So everyone has MP but it can be configured for mages to remain MP while a barbarian has RP (rage points) and fighters can have SP and so on. It's just flavor but helps.
 

Tech

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"Titan's Quest" and "Grim Dawn" use "Energy" for everything, and "Diablo 3" has each character utilize a unique(ly named but functionally identical) "resource."
As for TP, I've only tied one skill to it, a Machinist ability that's too powerful to just let players spam.
 

Maliki79

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In my game, MP is used for both magic and physical skills. So instead of it being mp (magic points) they are sp (stamina points).
 

somenick

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In my current game, I use MP for everything. The logic being, the more you level up, the more you can apply your skills.

I have, however, certain skills that are only available when wielding certain weapons. Those skills use TP. The logic being that said skill uses energy from the weapon, not the user. Staying at an Inn also restores TP. ( Overnight cell phone charging? :p )
 

Aesica

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Originally, I was going to have everyone use MP for everything, from spells to melee attacks, but then I figured it'd be more fun to reskin it and give each character a unique feel for their resources. I ended up doing this:


  • EN (Energy) doesn't increase with level (100 max), is always full at the start of battle, and each turn, the character gains 35% (so 35). The drawback is that skills have costs as high as 70, so the trick is managing it so you don't get caught unable to use an important ability on a turn when it's needed.
  • RP (Rage) doesn't increase with level (100 max), is always empty at the start of battle and increases based on damage taken and damage dealt. Not every skill has a rage cost, mainly so the character has something to use at the start of battle.
  • SF (Soulforce) doesn't increase with level (200 max), is always empty at the start of battle, is generated in large chunks by using certain abilities with no cost, but many of them have cooldowns, and is spent similar to MP on everything else. The character's limit break also consumes all of it to deal damage based on the amount consumed.
  • FP (Faith) increases with level, is always half-full at the start of battle, and otherwise is a lot like classic MP. To recover it however, the character relies on 1) their limit break and 2) a fairly powerful aoe heal that also restores Faith to the user based on the number of living allies in the party. This skill has no cost, but a lengthy cooldown
  • MP (Mana - not shown) is just what you probably expect from MP. I figured at least one character should have a more traditional resource.
One thing to consider for those of you who do something similar is your consumables. An MP potion that restores 250 MP is fine for the MP user, but is probably a tad OP on anyone else, such as the Rage user, as their slow-build resource maintenance can be disregarded with just one chug of even a lesser MP potion.

I guess this means my next step is to lock these potions to their specific resource.

- - -

Also to note, for anyone interested in reskinning MP like this, I made a plugin for it that can be found in my sig.
 

Damascus7

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In my current WIP, I keep MP for my two magic users, and then just rename and recolor it as TP (Technique Points) for the non-magic characters. They both function identically, but some items or abilities only affect MP, while others only affect TP.
 

lianderson

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Restructured TP into Stamina, where you constantly regen the resource in and out of battle. (max is 100)

If it's magical, then it's MP.
If it's physical, then it's Stamina.
If it's both, well... then it's both.
 

Eschaton

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The "magic" in MP is just flavor and it's flavor we're used to. It's a mechanic that makes certain skills more scarce than "Attack." So, I don't see much of a reason for MP to just be for magic over other skills. If the developer needs skills to be scarce, MP is a perfectly fine way to make them that way.

Mechanically, MP compared to TP is the difference between proactive skill use and reactive skill use.
 

ScientistWD

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My latest project only has magic-users, so this was not an issue to pick a uniform style of MP for each of my characters.
But in my current project, I have chosen a minimalist approach. Magic-users have MP, but physical fighters have nothing of the sort. Not even something like TP. Instead, their abilities are linked more to their equipment and stats. For example, a Knight can only defend and protect his allies if he has a shield equipped, but he can deal a lot more damage if he has a two-handed weapon equipped.

That being said, MP adds not only to the game's mechanics, but also to its lore. Is it that physical fighters are not born with any magic inside of them, and have to make do without? Or does everyone have a sort of magic, but combatants like Rogues and Knights use it in a specific way to enhance their strength and speed? Maybe thinking about how MP exists in the game's world, even if it is in a non-plot-related way, could be helpful.
 

Wavelength

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My latest project only has magic-users, so this was not an issue to pick a uniform style of MP for each of my characters.
But in my current project, I have chosen a minimalist approach. Magic-users have MP, but physical fighters have nothing of the sort. Not even something like TP. Instead, their abilities are linked more to their equipment and stats. For example, a Knight can only defend and protect his allies if he has a shield equipped, but he can deal a lot more damage if he has a two-handed weapon equipped.
If you've playtested a significant portion of your game yet, I'd be interested to know - how is that working out for you? Is it easy to balance, and do battles feel exciting?

My theory has always been that the fewer resources a character has, the less room there is for skill expression and variance in outcome. For example, if all that battlers have is HP (and a bread-and-butter damage skill they like to use), there are only two things that can happen: they deal damage quicker than the enemy and kill them, or they deal damage less quickly than the enemy and get killed. There's no real way for either side to spend resources or manipulate the battle flow to get ahead (except maybe Items, which have their own problems).

This is an oversimplification, but it's the basic reason why I try to give battlers at least two resources (besides HP) that can be manipulated, in addition to cooldowns on skills, in my games!
 

ScientistWD

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@Wavelength Regarding my minimalist design and no MP for non-magic users;

I have been working on it for awhile, and there is plenty left to finish, so it is hard to say how much is "significant" in the long run. But I have gone through personally and have found my design to be working fairly well. The game itself tends to put more weight on two other things as a result: managing resources (HP, MP, and your standard Inventory), and on old-fashioned dungeon design. It feels unique to me, and I am still learning as I go, but I really think I have something going here.
Battle is a lot simpler, you are right about that. But what I have found is that my decisions while playing tend to step backward from the individual battle to the dungeon as a whole. As a player, you might have only two healing potions to split between your three-person party, and your Wizard only has enough MP to cast spells maybe eight times. Take the risk to find more items? Can you last through another few battles, or do you need to heal now? Against a field of small opponents, does my Knight have enough HP to tank them, or should I swallow my MP on a big Aqua spell to take them all out? The flow of battle might have only a few factors to consider, but the ramifications go a lot further down the line than the current battle most of the time, and extend to the dungeon as a whole.

My last big game, Toil and Trouble, is just like you say. There are three "resources": HP, a different kind of MP, and a Party Limit Gauge. It had great, exciting battles with a bundle of quirky enemies that I absolutely love to death. But with my latest game, I wanted to step back a little and hone in on those classic mechanics to see if I could make something different with an emphasis on resources, but still a JRPG with its emphasis on combat and dungeon design.

I am still working on it, of course. But what I mean to emphasize in this conversation is that our games sometimes go beyond our battles and into a larger context. Furthermore, a simple actor is not always a boring one, especially if they can do something useful that no other actor can do. Wizards might have a bundle of powerful spells, but without a Knight to protect them they might not be so effective. And a Thief might be able to steal something a lot more convenient than a fancy skill might allow.

(P.S. @Wavelength, If you are curious I am willing to speak more about my design, because I could certainly go on.)
 

Wavelength

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@ScientistWD No need to go on any further; I think I understand exactly what your dynamic is and it sounds cool. I usually assume (without any context) that games described here use an "Acute" style of challenge and engagement, where any given battle can spike down an ill-prepared party, rather than the "Chronic" style you are describing in your game, where the accumulated loss of resources throughout a dungeon presents the real danger.

Your game sounds good, and the only (unsolicited) advice I'd give you is to ensure your battles resolve quickly, since it's the sweep of many battles that sounds interesting and engaging, rather than the fighting in a single battle.

Furthermore, a simple actor is not always a boring one, especially if they can do something useful that no other actor can do. Wizards might have a bundle of powerful spells, but without a Knight to protect them they might not be so effective. And a Thief might be able to steal something a lot more convenient than a fancy skill might allow.
I agree with you entirely. :)
 

JosephSeraph

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This is an oversimplification, but it's the basic reason why I try to give battlers at least two resources (besides HP) that can be manipulated, in addition to cooldowns on skills, in my games!
There's another point in that you can play with how the abilities interact with themselves and the context of the battle without necessarily have resources involved! I mean, depending on how you look at it.
For example, let's say you have a Fighter with an ability that can deal (0.5x) damage and make the enemy take 1.5x damage from physical attacks for 3 turns. The ability costs nothing. If you string it with two basic attacks, it becomes 0.5 + 1.5 + 1.5 + 1.5, 5.0 total damage, vs. 4.0 which you would deal if you used only basic attacks. That's a sort of interaction that already adds some depth. Now imagine you have more 4-5 abilities all of which interact with one another and the rest of the actors in unique ways, you can create a thread of interactions that really changes which abilities you'll use, and how, and that's (debatably) without resources. I mean debatably, because a def. down is still technically a resource, you're managing the turns in which your enemy will have lowered defense. But you can see how that can lead to deep, engaging gameplay without necessarily having direct resource management.

I'm not saying every game should just have HP, but it's doable, and it's probably wise to pat our games dry of resources and stats as much as possible, to make the most of the simplest.

So back to the OP the question would be, do you have to use TP? Or MP? Too often we'll use a mechanic just because it's there by default (and it's completely understandable and intuitive, if not harmful, to do so.)
Perhaps even you'll want to have three resources, rather than just two! As in, three bars, not MP, TP and Cooldown. Or another resource that affects the output of your actions, or the pool of abilities available to you.

Lastly, as a recommendation for a game that does kind of the last thing mentioned there, I'd urge people to play Wine & Roses! The game uses a unique resource management system in which you need to keep pressure on the enemies as your Sanity rises or falls -- with some abilities increasing in power depending on whether it's high or low, or even consuming it, but you yourself becoming more vulnerable to certain attacks.

Actually, a lot of Craze's games play with resource mechanics so i recommend giving more of them a shot. Just be wary he's very fond of damage sponges lol
 

Wavelength

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There's another point in that you can play with how the abilities interact with themselves and the context of the battle without necessarily have resources involved! I mean, depending on how you look at it.
For example, let's say you have a Fighter with an ability that can deal (0.5x) damage and make the enemy take 1.5x damage from physical attacks for 3 turns. The ability costs nothing. If you string it with two basic attacks, it becomes 0.5 + 1.5 + 1.5 + 1.5, 5.0 total damage, vs. 4.0 which you would deal if you used only basic attacks. That's a sort of interaction that already adds some depth. Now imagine you have more 4-5 abilities all of which interact with one another and the rest of the actors in unique ways, you can create a thread of interactions that really changes which abilities you'll use, and how, and that's (debatably) without resources. I mean debatably, because a def. down is still technically a resource, you're managing the turns in which your enemy will have lowered defense. But you can see how that can lead to deep, engaging gameplay without necessarily having direct resource management.

I'm not saying every game should just have HP, but it's doable, and it's probably wise to pat our games dry of resources and stats as much as possible, to make the most of the simplest.
Without a doubt, this kind of thing is a potentially interesting mechanic, and it can deliver that intrigue without complicating things with resources. There's a good argument to be made for this simplicity.

However, the flip side of the coin is - would this kind of mechanic be more interesting if resources were present? And I'd argue that it can be, and often would be.

Taking your same Damage Multiplier Debuff example above, let's consider that there are probably other physical skills that deal more base damage than 1.0x - maybe even a "Mega Punch" skill that deals 3.0x base damage. With the debuff in place, it now deals 4.5x damage - in one turn you've already gained three times as much damage output as you lost by using the debuff skill instead of a basic attack. That's not an interesting decision (unless the enemy was weak enough to finish off with a basic attack anyway) - the player will want to do it every time!

However, if the Debuff skill and the Mega Punch both have different MP (or TP or whatever) costs, and those resources are well-designed - or if the Debuff skill has a very long cooldown - then the player is going to be making very interesting and possibly tough decisions about when they want to use the Debuff skill, and whether they want to use that combo, or handle the enemy with some basic attacks (and possibly one of the two skills) instead.
 

Milennin

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On the topic of alternative resources to use skills, I'm a fan of 'tokens' (or charges) as an additional resource. Tokens are character specific resources that get generated or used up by activating skills, and alter the power of the skills, depending on how many tokens a character is holding onto. So basically, you're never not able to activate a skill that spends tokens (as long as you have the MP for it), but it gains more effect/power, the more tokens you're holding. It creates a synergy between skills, but it's doesn't put a hard limit on the usage like MP does.
 

CraneSoft

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My WIP is largely a single-actor (ie. Lightning Returns-esque) game so I literally try to cram in as many resources as possible for balancing purposes as well as encouraging creative approaches :

MP consumption for all magical-related skills.
HP consumption for all physical-related skills.
TP is modified into a curse-meter like gauge that once filled with lead into incapacitation.

Other than the basic 3 I also have custom resources like a multi-layered limit break "charges", limited self-revival "charges", as well as a guard meter that affects vulnerability to attacks. It's a lot of things to manage with and it's complicated, yeah, but nevertheless I found it necessary due to the absence of party members.
 

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My game features superheroes and -villains, instead of mages and knights and the like. Therefore, I have renamed my MP to SP, or Super Points.

Now, some of my superheroes have inherent superpowers, while others make use of gadgets or martial art skills. If a skill makes use of the user's inherent superpowers, it'll use SP. If it's simply a technique they learned over time, which anyone could learn to do, it uses TP. I'm not sure how I'll handle gadgets yet. Maybe I'll use some form of 'energy' mechanic or something.

The thing is, some superpower skills are also physical techniques. For example, one character's inherent superpower is to create portals. If she then uses a portal to martial-arts-kick someone from behind, it'll cost both SP and TP. Another good example is super speed. If someone uses super speed (an inherent power) to unleash a flurry of martial arts punches and kicks, it'll cost both SP for the super speed, and TP for the martial arts. On the other hand, if it's only regular attacks being unleashed at super speed (less damage, but still more than just a regular attack), it will only cost SP.

This way, I have a clear separation between what is and is not affected by certain things. That portal-user I mentioned gets a necklace at some point in the game that, according to lore, contains an enormous amount of the cosmic energy she channels into portals. It would not make sense lorewise for that to affect her ability to do martial arts, so I had to separate it. It also means that pure technique moves are unlimited, as long as you allow for enough recovery time in between them, making them generally 'cheaper' than superpower moves, which makes sense since it's basically just moving your body a certain way, and lorewise does not expend any special energy whatsoever.

Maybe I'll rename SP to EN, now that I think about it. That way I can use it for gadgets, too. I'd have to do something about the recovery items, though, since it makes no sense for the batteries of gadgets to be charged from drinking a cup of coffee.
 

Ascendedraven

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I've actually swapped the typical use of TP and MP entirely. I use MP exclusively for physical attacks and rename it SP (Stamina Points) or AP. And I use TP for spell casters.

I like the feel of physical characters going in fresh and ready to go and slowly "tiring" as they use abilities. Typically these characters have decent enough normal attacks anyways that running out of an ability resource doesn't completely cripple them.

As for casters, I like the idea of them having to gather or draw in power before unleashing a spell. It allows you to make powerful, flashy or interesting spells without worrying about them spamming them non stop or running out of resource too soon. Also it's nice for a character who relies on spells/Abilities to have a theoretically limitless supply of resource so long as they retain access to whatever method allows them to build TP.

Too manytimes I've played games where my mages sat useless until the boss fight because I was trying to save all their spells or MP for the boss. I like it better when everyone is relevant all the time.
 

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