What do you do with elements in your game?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Lnik3500, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I think the problem mostly stems from not being able to explain that exact moment I'm talking about. It's sort of a nebulous emotion. A state of mind. It's the moment between when you think, "I'm so screwed" and "I got this" before you power through. I don't know what that moment is called. I can only talk about it as if it were a "jolt". As if it were "gotcha!". A miniature moment of terror or horror, and then that surge of confidence and intelligence to overcome it. Even if it's only as minor as fixing a two turn mistake and coming up with a new plan in the space of 20 seconds.

    I agree. Your system, that works like that, would be quite interesting. My problem is that it simply isn't compatible with my goal. It takes the same system, but accomplishes something quite different. It promotes tactics in a different flavor.

    Basically, it promotes "preparation and planning" instead of "thinking on your feet". I want to promote the "thinking on your feet" aspect. Your system works, and would likely work well. I'd implement it probably the same way, with a few tweaks for my own personal design philosophy and to eliminate things I might perceive the player could become frustrated with... or might cause the player to ignore the system altogether.

    A difference in end goals for the system.



    I'm sorry you're feel they're unfair, but it's what I was forced to conclude based upon your arguments and examples. You were treating Elements as if they were the only way to win combat. That a player would have to memorize weaknesses and would have to play guessing games on which weaknesses worked and which didn't. Your arguments treated Elemental Weakness as the only way a player would ever win combat... or, indeed... the only way they'd ever try to win combat. They are very much steeped in this philosophy, whether intentional on your part or not.

    You have to consider something. Your arguments were "if the player hits the wrong weakness just once, and gets punished, it's unfair". Imagine how that reads to someone who has at least 8 elements in their game. Not a single time did you consider combat could be won without exploiting an element. All the arguments made were in the assumption that the player would do nothing except exploit weaknesses they knew about... or if they didn't know about them, spend a lot of time trying to find them. As if an enemy being weak was the end-all, be-all, of combat.

    Did I read too much into this? I don't feel I did. Not with the arguments you were making and the assumptions you were drawing upon to make those arguments. Consider for a moment, do those arguments still hold up if you consider how many elements might be "neutral" to combat? Did you once, during the discussion, consider that neutral elements could win combat? Your arguments don't read like that. Everything you'd had to say on using elements reads like it is the only way to win combat, and as such, if the player can't exploit the weaknesses, or know what weaknesses will have a reaction dealt back to the player, then combat is unfair. It lacks strategy.

    Granted, this is not the first time I've seen you talk about Elements this way. It is a fairly common theme when you talk about them. I don't know if you even know you talk about them like that. Or, if you even consider elements a different way, but choose to only talk about them in this fashion.

    But, what I've seen is that when elements are discussed in any fashion, and you weigh in on it, you pretty much always treat Elements and Weaknesses as if it's a lot of "mental bookkeeping". Why would it be? It really only would be, if you had to exploit a weakness in order to win. The vast majority of RPG systems do not work that way. So, why would you ever need to memorize weaknesses? Unless it's an integral part of combat, it's completely unnecessary and the "mental bookkeeping" argument is absolutely moot.

    So, every time I've seen you talk about elements and that "mental bookkeeping" players will certainly have to do, and it's annoying, and they shouldn't have to do it, because it's a lot of work, etcetera... I privately wonder why you think exploiting an elemental weakness is the only course of action in RPG combat. Why you think it has to be such a large amount of work. Why you think all players aim to exploit a weakness with every single attack.

    What other conclusion can I draw from such arguments and examples?

    And yes, you did say this about my system. Right here. Equating them, essentially, to boss nukes. Or to just randomly screw over the player. You even suggested distasteful ways to accomplish just that, as if they were equivalent.

    In fact, you went as far as to ignore all the safeguards I'd mentioned the post before I had in place to prevent the system from being as distasteful as you were equating it to be. Including my intentions.

    In fact, you were outright lampooning my intentions for the system with this paragraph of yours.

    As such, I feel #3 here is quite the justified response and reasonable assumption of your own intentions and thoughts.

    If it feels unfair, I don't know what to tell you. You threw the first stone. Or, do you not think that reads like a personal attack on my system, especially with the comparisons?

    If you don't feel like it reads that way, I'm quite curious to see just how you think it actually reads.

    And this is based entirely on the assertions that you want the player to know what the weaknesses are at the beginning of combat... which elements/actions will trigger "Revenge", and painting it as "unfair" when these are not advertised. Yes, you use the exact word of "unfair".

    In fact, you refused to entertain the notion at all, that it would be valuable to even surprise a player. I believe you stated it has more drawbacks than positives (to paraphrase, I'm rather sick of scrolling back up to quote older posts of yours to point it out. Quoting anything except the last post made is always such a hassle... especially if I have to format it if I have to use multi-quote or something and don't need the whole thing).

    Maybe that's not how you intended to portray it. But, that is how it reads. It reads as if players should never be surprised and your opinion that surprising players in such a way as my Revenge System is a bad idea, players will hate it, and it ruins any tactic that could ever exist.

    You've stated multiple times how much frustration you think it will cause and is thus not worth implementing... unless it's implemented with the player knowing all the information up front. Turn One, Action One. You've stated multiple times how you think it is unfair.

    It really isn't too much to see you writing that and summarize it as what I wrote in #4. Is that your intent? I have no idea. But, what else am I meant to assume your stance is when those are your arguments and you refuse to address it in anything except those terms?

    Sorry, I tend to level it where it seems like it's correct. A system in which you provide the player 100% of the information necessary to make the best tactical decision possible isn't hand-holding because...? Why, again?

    I simply don't believe in that level of hand-holding. It breeds "easy-mode" RPG's. Sometimes, the player needs to make mistakes. They need to see the Game Over screen a few times. I feel it's necessary.

    Should the game be fair? Yes. Absolutely. Should a minor mistake result in game over? No. Do I believe I should take absolutely every action possible as a dev to keep the player from making stupid decisions? No. I believe at some point, in treating the player like a thinking human being. Someone capable of gleaning information for themselves. Someone mature enough to handle a little bit of frustration from time to time.

    In this instance, it reads like you do want to hold their hand the whole way. Like you don't expect them to figure things out on their own. Or draw their own conclusions. That those very actions (having to figure something out themselves, or draw their own conclusions) are somehow unfair or unreasonable.

    It is quite interesting that you're using Symmetrical play games. RPG's are not Symmetrical by their very nature. Not unless you try very hard to make them that way, as a dev. The enemy can do whatever it wants to you. Take whatever action it likes, at any time, for any reason. Unless you decide they must adhere to the exact same rules as the player. In some respects, they do in an RPG. They use the same damage formulas, most of the time, and similar "monster skills" to what you have access to as a player. But, by and large... RPG's are Asymmetrical games.

    However, even in some of the games mentioned... there's unfairness there. Put those strategy games on higher difficulties and you'll find that the CPU players have been given significant advantages over you just to provide challenge. More starting resources. Can build faster. Etcetera. Or, even in Gridiron Football... everyone has to pay by the same rules... but if a referee doesn't see something happen, or a bad call is made... then what? The outcome is still the outcome. It is a game played, essentially, on the "honor system". It works only so long as rules are enforced equally on every player. They rarely ever are. What about Poker? You can absolutely win by just bringing the most money to the table and destroying everyone through a bidding war and causing them to fold their ante every single time. Is that fair? Granted, they change the rules for "Tournament Poker", but the vast majority of Poker games aren't done that way. You can continue to buy in, so long as you have money to burn.

    But, despite this unfairness, aren't those games still fun to play? Fun to watch?

    I guess that's where we differ. I expect different enemies to have different weaknesses, even if they're the "same kind". I only expect them to share a weakness if it's been told to me that they should. Like say... they share Archetypes. I expect an "Alpha Wolf" to have different weaknesses to a "Wolf". Different immunities. But... I played a lot of RPG's where this was typically the case. So... I'm probably conditioned to that. A personal bias.

    I'm not quite sure how to answer that. Yes, and no, I guess? There's nowhere to go and get a rundown of every creature there is and find out all its types that way. There isn't even really a place that communicated what the "archetypes" are labeled as. The label is internal and really only applies to the dev work involved. It's written more like Chrono Trigger, I guess. "Thunder stun all dinosaur. You know?". Something like that. "Hey, you should buy a Mace! They're good for smashing anything with tough armor! Most people go with Swords or Spears, but a Mace really does wonders against armored foes!". Etcetera. "Fur is really flammable, did you know that? Most animals that have fur are pretty easy to start on fire. It's also a good way to cook your meal as you kill it!" Things of that nature. Little hints along the way.

    Nope, not necessarily. But, it's a bonus for paying attention to the Lore of the world. I don't expect players to hit an Insect with Ice and then wonder, "why isn't this super effective on bugs?". But, if they're curious, there's an explanation somewhere in the game. If they wanted to know. Or, they can draw their own conclusions based upon the Lore.

    It's not really all that important to consider why an enemy isn't weak to a specific element. You can still hit an Insect with Ice. You can still freeze it solid. It'll do normal damage. It just won't do extra bonus damage that is super life-threatening.
    ---
    As for the rest... I think I'll skip replying to it. I agree with your system and the way you want to use it. I don't agree with giving the player all the information "up front".

    Personally, with your system? I'd design it in such a way that once a player discovered the trigger for an enemy, it remains visible on all of the encounters with that enemy again. I might even have a single trigger be visible at the start of every combat. Maybe an option to have a second if the player uses some kind of Scan spell or something. But, I'd still require the player to "learn" some of these triggers as they go along. Just so the game isn't "too easy" for them. Just to add some extra dimension to combat and extra tactics and strategies. Especially if the trigger could be anything. "Attack Stat of Character 3 is above 200: Revenge Triggered. Use Just Once In Combat.", etcetera. I'd probably even have the effect of those triggers, once learned, always be known, just like the trigger itself. Or, give you an action that would let you "scry" the effect of a Trigger you don't know.

    I'd make the player work for that sort of advantage a little bit. I don't like the idea of just giving it to them.

    EDIT: Also, I forgot to mention. Yes, I realize that my system may not work entirely as intended. I did express that sentiment. Stating that I'd likely need a larger pool to draw from a few times in order to iron out issues with it. As with any game system, there's always, "the best laid plans". What we intend to do, rarely ever translates to what players will do. I suspect and expect I will need to tweak it quite a bit. Perhaps rework it in some ways. I don't expect the need to scrap the system entirely, but it's sort of "modular" for the reason that if I have to scrap it, the rest of the game remains unaffected. I'd really only need to remove the dialogue from a couple NPC's at this point, and about 2 hours of Database Work that make it run.

    It can be removed if I have to. I don't expect I'll need to remove it, however. Tweak and rework? Yes, I expect to need to do that. Battle Plans never survive contact with the enemy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    #41
  2. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    You're stuffing words in my mouth at an alarming rate, and accusing me of taking personal shots and throwing stones when all I've done is examine the potential strengths and weaknesses of your system. And you're turning every good idea into a strawman of absolutes. Since I refuse to become a strawman, let me break down this very long segment line by line and hopefully dispel some misconceptions.

    Your text in standard font; my responses in orange:
    I'm sorry you're feel they're unfair, but it's what I was forced to conclude based upon your arguments and examples. You were treating Elements as if they were the only way to win combat. That a player would have to memorize weaknesses and would have to play guessing games on which weaknesses worked and which didn't. No, I was treating Elements as an arbitrary advantage or disadvantage that players would either guess/stumble upon, or not stumble upon. "Elements are necessary to win combat" is entirely your own synthesis. Your arguments treated Elemental Weakness as the only way a player would ever win combat... or, indeed... the only way they'd ever try to win combat. They are very much steeped in this philosophy, whether intentional on your part or not. You are making up a philosophy, putting it in my mouth, and then accusing me of spouting fallacies that stem from this philosophy that you made up. Dirty way to argue.

    You have to consider something. Your arguments were "if the player hits the wrong weakness just once, and gets punished, it's unfair". No, I said it is likely to FEEL unfair to players. Not everything that feels unfair actually is unfair. But perception becomes reality in players' minds. See Hearthstone. Imagine how that reads to someone who has at least 8 elements in their game. Not a single time did you consider combat could be won without exploiting an element. Again, your incorrect assumption. All the arguments made were in the assumption that the player would do nothing except exploit weaknesses they knew about... or if they didn't know about them, spend a lot of time trying to find them. As if an enemy being weak was the end-all, be-all, of combat.

    Did I read too much into this? Yes. I don't feel I did. Not with the arguments you were making and the assumptions you were drawing upon to make those arguments. Consider for a moment, do those arguments still hold up if you consider how many elements might be "neutral" to combat? Did you once, during the discussion, consider that neutral elements could win combat? Yes. Your arguments don't read like that. I could also point out that consumable Items could eclipse any effect Elements have on battle. But whereas you embrace tangents, I try to keep my arguments focused to the specific mechanic at hand. I did not feel the need to wax philosophical about winning with neutral skills. Everything you'd had to say on using elements reads like it is the only way to win combat, and as such, if the player can't exploit the weaknesses, or know what weaknesses will have a reaction dealt back to the player, then combat is unfair. It lacks strategy. Of course it does! Strategy is the application of information. Without enough information to act on, THERE CAN BE NO STRATEGY!!

    Granted, this is not the first time I've seen you talk about Elements this way. It is a fairly common theme when you talk about them. I don't know if you even know you talk about them like that. Or, if you even consider elements a different way, but choose to only talk about them in this fashion. Did this paragraph move your argument forward?

    But, what I've seen is that when elements are discussed in any fashion, and you weigh in on it, you pretty much always treat Elements and Weaknesses as if it's a lot of "mental bookkeeping". Why would it be? It really only would be, if you had to exploit a weakness in order to win. You seem unclear about the concept of Mental Bookkeeping. Mental Bookkeeping is where a video game charges you with remembering things that you have already learned - things that you could write down, or that the game could easily keep track of for you. This is almost universally considered an unfun dynamic by respected designers. Mental Bookkeeping has absolutely nothing to do with game balance or whether you need to do the thing "in order to win". The vast majority of RPG systems do not work that way. So, why would you ever need to memorize weaknesses? Unless it's an integral part of combat, it's completely unnecessary and the "mental bookkeeping" argument is absolutely moot. Again, Mental Bookkeeping has nothing to do with being an "integral part of combat" or not.

    So, every time I've seen you talk about elements and that "mental bookkeeping" players will certainly have to do, and it's annoying, and they shouldn't have to do it, because it's a lot of work, etcetera... I privately wonder why you think exploiting an elemental weakness is the only course of action in RPG combat. For the third time, this is entirely your construction. Don't foist your made-up philosophies on me. Why you think it has to be such a large amount of work. Why you think all players aim to exploit a weakness with every single attack. I don't think this - again, your false synthesis. The argument I always make is that if the player "should" know the enemy's Weakness, or has already revealed the enemy's Weakness, then it's usually a good design practice to present the player with that Weakness in the GUI. It's breathtaking that you can construct "Wave thinks that exploiting weaknesses is the only course of action in RPG combat" from that!

    What other conclusion can I draw from such arguments and examples? You could take the analysis at face value.


    ((Quote from Wave: In fairness to your current system, I do think you'll accomplish that. You'll get the one-time jolt of surprise (and perhaps disgust), and perhaps an "oh crap!" if the player was already in a poor position when they hit a Revenge while they're already in a poor position. But consider that you'd also get that same dynamic with completely random "screws" in battle! Meteor comes by and deals damage to your party? Jolt! Random enemy falls from the sky and joins the opposing party? Jolt! Your skill randomly backfires or has no effect? Jolt! Enemy just happens to use its random Steam move instead of its normal action pattern? Oh crap! Like your system, these random screws provide a momentary surprise and setback that the player needs to recover from once, and are likely never seen again (during that battle at least). And because the player has absolutely no way to predict that either one are coming, and no agency to prevent it the first time (which you said would likely be the only time it happens anyway), I feel it's fair to say that completely naive Revenge is similar in dynamics to RNG Screws.
    And yes, you did say this about my system. Right here. Equating them, essentially, to boss nukes. NONE of the examples I gave were boss nukes or anything similar. I did that intentionally because I know you like to harangue about Boss Nukes and how your system isn't that. Or to just randomly screw over the player. You even suggested distasteful ways to accomplish just that, as if they were equivalent.))

    In fact, you went as far as to ignore all the safeguards I'd mentioned the post before I had in place to prevent the system from being as distasteful as you were equating it to be. Including my intentions. Your safeguards were mostly of the "it's not a one-shot-kill" variety, which goes back to my last point: I'm quite aware you don't like Boss Nukes.

    In fact, you were outright lampooning my intentions for the system with this paragraph of yours. No, I was pointing out how painful and frustrating it can feel to players when things happen without any indication that it even might happen. Given your very emotional and defensive reaction to thinking about it, I feel you may have gotten the point.

    As such, I feel #3 here is quite the justified response and reasonable assumption of your own intentions and thoughts. So, the "#3" in question here is your construction of "3. "Revenge" is so onerous and punishing that players will be 100% angry with the game, turn it off, and not play it." A bit of a leap from my actual comment that many players will find it frustrating - wouldn't you say?

    If it feels unfair, I don't know what to tell you. You threw the first stone. Or, do you not think that reads like a personal attack on my system, especially with the comparisons? Wait, let me get this straight. You are accusing me of "throwing stones" by making a PERSONAL attack on your SYSTEM? Here I was thinking that personal attacks are made on... well, people.

    If you don't feel like it reads that way, I'm quite curious to see just how you think it actually reads. I think it reads as a well-illustrated example of how attempts at "surprise" dynamics can feel random and RNG-like to players. You are taking things far too personally.



    And this is based entirely on the assertions that you want the player to know what the weaknesses are at the beginning of combat... which elements/actions will trigger "Revenge", and painting it as "unfair" when these are not advertised. To be crystal clear, my general suggestion of showing Element Rates outright does not necessarily apply to your game with its Revenge system. Yes, you use the exact word of "unfair". Which you proceeded to take out of context. I never said it WAS unfair. I said it FEELS unfair. This is an empirically-proven fact about RNG-based mechanics, and I believe the same will go for your Naive Revenge system, which - without any type of upfront forecasting - will occupy a similar space in players' minds.

    In fact, you refused to entertain the notion at all, that it would be valuable to even surprise a player. No, I simply didn't appreciate how much you valued it, which I was big enough to admit to. I believe you stated it has more drawbacks than positives (to paraphrase, I'm rather sick of scrolling back up to quote older posts of yours to point it out. Quoting anything except the last post made is always such a hassle... especially if I have to format it if I have to use multi-quote or something and don't need the whole thing).

    Maybe that's not how you intended to portray it. But, that is how it reads. It reads as if players should never be surprised and your opinion that surprising players in such a way as my Revenge System is a bad idea, players will hate it, and it ruins any tactic that could ever exist. Exaggeration.

    You've stated multiple times how much frustration you think it will cause and is thus not worth implementing... unless it's implemented with the player knowing all the information up front. Turn One, Action One. You've stated multiple times how you think it is unfair. See above about "unfairness".

    It really isn't too much to see you writing that and summarize it as what I wrote in #4. Is that your intent? I have no idea. Then DON'T ASSUME IT. But, what else am I meant to assume your stance is when those are your arguments and you refuse to address it in anything except those terms? Your ad-hominem arguments here don't even make sense. There is nothing I have refused to address, and you've made up several twisted terms that you then ascribe to me and say I can't look past.



    Sorry, I tend to level it where it seems like it's correct. A system in which you provide the player 100% of the information necessary to make the best tactical decision possible isn't hand-holding because...? Why, again? This is the point you keep missing. Having the information isn't the end-goal of good strategic gameplay. Having the information is the BEGINNING of good strategic gameplay! From there, the player's ability (or lack thereof) to make good judgments with the info at their fingertips is where the strategy really breathes.

    I simply don't believe in that level of hand-holding. "Hand-holding". It breeds "easy-mode" RPG's. Quite the opposite - making information-gathering the end goal breeds "easy-mode" RPGs. Sometimes, the player needs to make mistakes. They need to see the Game Over screen a few times. I feel it's necessary. Agreed. In the same breath, mistakes in strategy or skill are far more satisfying ways to admit defeat than incomplete information.

    Should the game be fair? Yes. Absolutely. Should a minor mistake result in game over? No. Do I believe I should take absolutely every action possible as a dev to keep the player from making stupid decisions? No. Do you like asking yourself questions, then answering them yourself? Yes. ;) I believe at some point, in treating the player like a thinking human being. Someone capable of gleaning information for themselves. Someone mature enough to handle a little bit of frustration from time to time. Yeah. Treat a player like a THINKING human being, not a notepad. Let the game be the notepad for them. Put information at their fingertips, and let them make actual decisions. Tough decisions where multiple options feel viable, and none feel perfect. Remember - without information, there can be no strategy.

    In this instance, it reads like you do want to hold their hand the whole way. "Hand-holding". Like you don't expect them to figure things out on their own. Or draw their own conclusions. That those very actions (having to figure something out themselves, or draw their own conclusions) are somehow unfair or unreasonable. Hitting an enemy with multiple elements, seeing "Weakness!" or "Resist!" or "Revenge!" come up, and being tasked with remembering that, is a far cry from "figuring something out themselves" or "drawing their own conclusions".



    It is quite interesting that you're using Symmetrical play games. RPG's are not Symmetrical by their very nature. The rules are known in both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical games. You know what you are allowed to do, and what the opponents or game systems are allowed to do. Not unless you try very hard to make them that way, as a dev. The enemy can do whatever it wants to you. Take whatever action it likes, at any time, for any reason. Unless you decide they must adhere to the exact same rules as the player. In some respects, they do in an RPG. They use the same damage formulas, most of the time, and similar "monster skills" to what you have access to as a player. But, by and large... RPG's are Asymmetrical games. A difference in power or goals does not change that the rules are known in both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical games.

    However, even in some of the games mentioned... there's unfairness there. Put those strategy games on higher difficulties and you'll find that the CPU players have been given significant advantages over you just to provide challenge. More starting resources. Can build faster. Etcetera. Or, even in Gridiron Football... everyone has to pay by the same rules... but if a referee doesn't see something happen, or a bad call is made... then what? The outcome is still the outcome. It is a game played, essentially, on the "honor system". It works only so long as rules are enforced equally on every player. They rarely ever are. What about Poker? You can absolutely win by just bringing the most money to the table and destroying everyone through a bidding war and causing them to fold their ante every single time. (That's not how poker works; No-Limit games without fixed buy-ins are almost unheard of, for the very reason you mention.) Is that fair? Granted, they change the rules for "Tournament Poker", but the vast majority of Poker games aren't done that way. You can continue to buy in, so long as you have money to burn. None of these minutia change the fact that the rules are known in both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical games.

    But, despite this unfairness, aren't those games still fun to play? Fun to watch? Yes, because the rules are known in both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical games.
     
    #42
  3. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    @Wavelength

    I'm sorry if I've offended you or upset you in some way. That was not my intention. My intention, first and foremost, was to try to show you how your posts read to me, and why I was reading them as such. Basically, to get you to take a look at what you had written and ask if I could've reasonably accepted them in any way other than my interpretation.

    Those four things is how your posts on this subject have read to me. Whether that is your intent or not, that's up to you to decide. You say that those four things are not your intent and not your core design beliefs, so I will choose to believe you. The item about "Elements" is how your posts on the subject of Elemental Weaknesses have typically come across to me. Not just in this topic, but in several others that I've read.

    As for the "throwing stones first" comment... I can tell immediately that you did not take it the way I had meant it. I did not mean it to say that you had upset me, or personally attacked me. I had meant it in the context of, "you mischaracterized my system and my posts, and then declared it unfair when I had inadvertently done the same to you. You threw the first stone on such an action, so I don't deem it unfair". But, perhaps that's a bit too much to require someone infer from the simple quote.

    As for the rest... I've been typing in a very "matter-of-fact" way. Not with the intent to attack you. Not with the intent to insult you. I tried to pick words that would get my point across that "this is what you are saying, this is how I've been interpreting what you're saying, and I don't know how to interpret it any other way except like this". This is why I invited you to try to clear it up for me. I'm quite interested to see how you would interpret your own words, if they'd been said to you instead. Maybe there is another way to interpret what you'd said. Or, to just take it at face value and not "read between the lines" to get at the heart and core of your personal logic and reasoning. I simply don't know of one. That's all.

    In short, I was trying to tell you how your posts were coming off to me in a diplomatic way. But, alas, text does not convey the sound of voice. It does not convey body language. I can see how a person might think my posts were a personal attack of some sort. After all, it is easy to get swept up in a conversation, criticism, or argument, and just "ride the flow" to wherever it goes. A minor unimportant comment turns into a few barbs, turns into veiled insults, turns into open insults, turns into aggression, turns into open hostility, etcetera. It's easy to be swept away by a single perceived sleight. I should know, I've had it happen to me. I've had to just avoid topics for over a month in order to keep from continuing on an argument that I know is going into those rocky shoals of resentment. Because, I would reread a post, and feel a strong urge to hit "reply" and pick that post apart until the other person was so angry that they were no longer thinking straight.

    It simply is, what it is.

    In this case, I would not like to do that. I would not like to start an argument with you. I would not like to begin resenting you. I would not like you to begin resenting me.

    I like you, as a person. I respect you, as a game dev. I enjoy our verbal sparring, even when it occasionally gets heated. I enjoy reading your long posts. I enjoy when you critique something of mine and it points out issues I had never considered.

    Oh, and yes, I also enjoy that we so rarely, if ever, agree on anything. I value that point of view.

    With that in mind, I'd like to tell you that I did not mean any disrespect to you. I did not mean to insult you. I did not mean to upset you. I did not mean to pull this conversation into the place it currently sits at. My word and phrase choices are not always the best, and I do seem to miscommunicate every so often. Or, I don't think how someone could read what I wrote and just assume they will take things as I had intended them.

    I will now skip over anything that I possibly perceive as "incendiary" in your reply for a couple reasons.
    1. I honestly just don't want to fight with you.
    2. If my apology and reasoning aren't enough for you, we can probably discuss it in PM.
    3. Our argument has created like 1000 different tangents and it's honestly going nowhere.

    If you're still interested in discussing the systems, then let's do that.

    Oh, and don't for one second think you aren't getting a copy of my game to test at some point. I seriously want to know if what you imagine my game to be lines up with what it actually is. I want to know if it actually surprises you in any way. :D No, you don't get to refuse. If and when I get to a state where I can do thorough playtests, I definitely want you to rip the game a new one.

    Application of strategy: In general terms, any information that you can act on, creates strategy. Whether that strategy is "useful" or not, is another story. The difference in our opinion in this seems to be that you want the player to have much more information at the start of combat so that they can engage in "preparation/planning" strategy, while my stance is that I want the player to have enough information to make an opening move, but then require that they "plan as they go". It is simply two different trains of thought. I do not disagree with gearing strategy towards preparation and planning. I simply disagree with the level of information you would like to give the player for it. That's all. The level you have ascribed you want given to players, simply feels "too easy" and that the player has to do no work to earn any of that information. Thus, I don't agree. Thus, I think it's "easy mode".

    Mental Bookkeeping: I understand what it means. The implications of it are what I keep trying to explain. A player need not do any mental bookkeeping if it does not come up again. You do not need to memorize the boss weaknesses or that they would hit you with "Revenge". These are, presumably (I hate reusing bosses as regular mobs, so I won't be doing that), single combat encounters that once finished, you will never do again. No Mental Bookkeeping required. Mental Bookkeeping being something a player needs, means that it is important. Important enough to have to remember. Something you use only once, wouldn't be considered "Mental Bookkeeping". While, memorizing archetypes would be some Mental Bookkeeping, it really would be for the expressed purpose of knowing which weaknesses you can exploit and which you cannot. After all, why would you remember that Armored enemies can be killed with Bashing attacks, unless you had planned to use that against them? The act of Mental Bookkeeping makes the information vital, important, and necessary. If X, then Y. If keeping track of archetypes to exploit weaknesses is "Mental Bookkeeping", then it is important to exploit those weaknesses. Few RPG's operate under this assumption. Most operate under the assumption that, "It has a weakness, but you probably wont' find it, or spend time finding it, or waste time exploiting it, since you can kill it without doing any of that." This is typically because it is easier to hit "Attack" than it is to scroll to a specific skill to use against an enemy... when doing either action would kill the enemy in the same amount of hits. Economy of Actions.

    Level of information: This boils down to two types. Preparation/Planning or "Making good decisions on the fly". Forgive me, I don't really know how to put the act of "thinking on your feet" as a viable application of strategy (there is probably a word for it, but I don't know it). In my opinion, the player needs just enough given information to make an opening move. Consider it sort of like chess. Players know what every piece can do, and that's it. They have only that much information at the beginning. The information on every action they can take, and the information on every opening action the opponent can take. That's it. Not much to really go on. You have 20 moves you can use at the beginning of Chess, before any piece has moved. Now, consider that you're pretty far into a game, and you make a move that takes a piece, but you hadn't seen that piece was protected. You lacked the information to make an informed decision (while it is the fault of yourself in this instance, I'm simply using it to keep with the Chess Theme, rather than swap to games where you have even less information and are more likely to make a bad decision despite having very little information... like say... Poker. Where you can only really assume what players have in their hands, and are given very little to work with). Now, your strategy is busted, you have to come up with a new one. On the fly. The opponent may have to do so, as well. Maybe they had never counted on taking a piece so easily and now their piece is "out of position", or there's suddenly a hole in your defenses they didn't anticipate. The player needs just enough information that they can get moving. They can acquire new information as they move along during the fight.

    Put simply, I think I'm providing enough information for players to make "opening moves" and then to adapt as the battle continues. The only way to 100% know for sure if I am... is to have people playtest the game and watch to see how they play.
    1. Players are told that bosses will do "Revenge" and how it is triggered (use of a single specific element).
    2. They are told that using this element does more damage than other weaknesses, but it could hurt you quite a bit as well.
    3. Players are taught Archetypes as the information becomes necessary to their progression.
    4. Through experience, players will glean that "Revenge" does not often kill or hinder too much, so there is little to fear from triggering it, especially at the start of combat.
    5. Players are told that Revenge interrupts all enemy actions so that they can seek Revenge on you.

    Is this enough? I think it is. If it proves to not be enough, then I will tweak it until it works... or until I realize that making it work is beyond the scope of my ability and I remove it.

    I do not believe that giving the player the condition of triggering "Revenge" as well as what will happen when you do... adds strategy. Put simply, I think a player knowing that taking a specific action that will result in a specific unfavorable outcome to them, will avoid that action at all costs. Because, quite frankly, they don't have enough information. Nor, would they seek to gain that information. "The boss will hit you with a full party attack if you inflict Poison on it". Okay, how much damage does that do? As a player, I'm not willing to find out. Especially if I can just swap to my second most efficient strategy and win without inflicting Poison. I didn't decide on any strategy. I didn't decide on a tactic. I just was told not to do something, so I didn't do it. As a dev, you took away one of my options outright by making it so undesirable, that I wouldn't even trigger it on purpose just to see what it does. "I can win without triggering this... or I can trigger it and maybe something I can't handle happens to me..." It becomes "The Illusion of Choice".

    Meanwhile, if a player triggers "Revenge" without knowing which element would trigger it... and sees the results of it... they now have necessary information to make a strategic choice. Now that they know which element triggers it on this boss:
    1. They can plan to exploit it to create interrupts on the boss using other skills.
    2. They can see that it just isn't that powerful and decide to tank the hits because exploiting the weakness is far more valuable.
    3. They can decide that hitting that element isn't worth it as they had issues dealing with it the first time, so they avoid hitting it.

    This is the level of information I feel comfortable giving the player. Not too much. Not too little. Enough to make decent opening plays, and then more information when those don't work so that even better decisions can be made as the battle progresses.

    "Revenge" is not a system I would consider using in its current format on anything less than "Boss" type enemies. If I wanted to place it on every enemy in the game, I would likely use your format and make it a far more prominent feature. It does not work for every single enemy. It would require too much "Mental Bookkeeping" if I applied it to every enemy in the game. I opted for "pretty much zero" Mental Bookkeeping with my system. It applies pretty much to monsters you will rarely ever see... and bosses you will fight and defeat just once.

    Okay, that was kind of long and rambling, so I'll move on to the next bit.

    Video Game Rules: I have to disagree here. In a video game, the player does not know what an enemy is capable of... until that enemy does it. As such, the player is only aware of the rules that apply to them. They can only jump this high. This weapon does this. This piece of armor does that. In a video game, unless we're talking something like an eSport or something designed for competitive PvP… the player doesn't know what the rules for the enemies are (and MOBAs are an exception as it's difficult to memorize the movelist of every character in PvP and every nuance of those skills). They can be, and often are... anything. The enemies in video games rarely, if ever, play by the same rules the player does. In instances where they do play by the exact same rules, it has to be done well in order for it to not be all that boring. After all, you are inserting AI into the role of PvP competition.

    The player, at most, will learn the rules for individual enemies. Usually, the ones that provide them a challenge. It will usually not bother them that they're learning the rules of the enemy this way either.

    Video Games pretty much thrive on this, to be quite honest. You learn the rules the enemy plays by... by encountering them doing the things they're programmed to do.

    It's quite different from Symmetrical games like Civ and such, where everyone plays by the exact same rules and no special considerations are made/allowed for variation. The "Challenge" in such systems then lies in mastery of existing systems. There is nothing wrong with this, but I am designing in an environment that isn't Symmetrical. It is Asymmetrical. You only know the rules that apply to yourself. Every enemy has their own rules that apply to them. You learn their rules by playing against them.

    Final Comment About Poker, of all Things: Pretty much every game of Poker that isn't run as a Tournament, or by law is required to "be fair", is a no limits game. That means, if you play Poker anywhere except a Casino or a Tournament... yeah, it's "no limits" type games. Real gambling. Actual gambling. This is why the game relies so heavily on reading people. To prevent a player from simply making everyone fold by outbidding everyone... they can be tricked into bidding more. They can be tricked into thinking they can win more money with a hand by not making the players Fold. The person who wins Poker is the one who walks away from the table with the most money. It is a game where you can win 99% of all hands... but if that 1% of hands you lost to takes all your money... you lost.

    But, I mean... I grew up in places where "Tournament" type gambling and "Casino" type gambling aren't the norm. They're the rare exception. You can go to a bar and start a Poker game, and it's pretty much universally "no limits". But, that's how it is here. It's not like you would find in a video game. It's not like you would find in a city like Las Vegas.

    And yes, it still upsets me that in Farcry 3, an island of pirates and cheats... that I can't use my massive amount of cash to just take the money of everyone at the table, and have to "buy in" and play by silly "Tournament" rules. Seriously, it's an island of cheats and pirates. Why would they have honor about this? So stupid. Very "video gamey".
    ---
    Okay, that's all I got. You'll have to forgive spelling and grammar errors if you see them. I've been sick the last three days and haven't slept much in that time. I am going to eat, dose up with my meds again, and go crash for a while.
     
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  4. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    The amount of pages this thread has got makes me wanna chime in on the element thing.


    I have this concept of a game in mind that I'm still finding more inspiration for(and probably will be there forever, lol.)
    In this game, the elements are way of surely exploiting enemies' weakness. It's set up as follows:
    1. Ordinary enemies can be easily killed with physicals.
    2. Some strong enemies aren't so. Some tactics are needed to be employed to effectively damage them. This is unless you are overpowered enough to push through. Ex: Some enemies might need to be knocked to a certain state or some combo skills are needed.
    3. In the situation No.2, players can skip the tactics by using the elemental power to exploit weakness. However, the raw power of the elemental spells are still lower than the raw power of physicals. The difference is not that big, but it will be more prominent in the late-game content with a more HP-spongy boss.
    4. In case that the enemies has no weakness, No.2 is still a way to go on strong enemies unless the characters are strong enough to skip tactics.
    In this game, I planned that elemental spells is something players acquired in a later point in game. So player is stuck with tactics for awhile and they will feel a breeze of fresh air when they finally got elemental spells.

    Most elemental spells act the same way with only difference in their elemental. There are probably 4-6 elements, but players will need to juggle between 2-3 elements most of the time while the other elements are more situational and tactical than the main few.
     
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  5. ave36

    ave36 Veteran Veteran

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    I use a variation on the classic elements. There are three Natural Elements, three Destructive Elements, three Dark Elements and one and a half Special Elements.

    The Natural Elements are Air, Earth and Water. You can gain spells of these elements from Avatars (summonable spirits), they are considered Battle Magic but are not in the standard Battle Mage spell list. Overall, the Natural Elements are rare and used sparingly. Natural Element spells have only two ranks, Basic and All-hitting.

    The Destructive Elements are Fire, Ice, Lightning. They are Battle Magic and form the basis of the Battle Mage spell list. They have three spell ranks, Basic, Re- and Mort-.

    The Dark Elements are Death, Poison and Gravity. They are Black Magic and are used by the Black Knight class. Only Death is a "standard" element, the two others are gimmick elements: Poison is associated with the eponymous status, and Gravity with percentile damage spells. Death damages the living, heals undead and does nothing to robots. They too have three spell ranks, Basic, Re- and Mort-, with Death having an extra fourth spell, Dark Nova.

    One Special Element is Holy; it is a very rare element, there is only one attack spell of the Holy element, Sanct Nova.

    The other Special element is Life. It is not considered a proper element in game mechanics but it is treated like an element in lore. Cure and regen spells belong to this element. Cure has three spell ranks: Basic, Re- and Ex-. Both special elements are White magic.
     
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  6. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Hey @Tai_MT - first of all sorry I took a few weeks to respond, and left you hanging after the PM. I intended to respond within a couple days, but was catching up on work I was behind on - then I got sick, and then I had to catch up on more work I was behind on from being sick! :p

    First of all I want to quickly explain what I took such issue with in the two posts before mine - not to argue that you are wrong, but to ask you to look at the way you were arguing, and hopefully understand why it got me feeling heated.

    Later in this post, I'm going to get back to our mature discussion on design philosophy, like you've done in your last post, and I'll do my best to examine what our different approaches might do for the player experience in practice.


    ===


    So what I feel you were doing in parts of those two posts (before your last one) was to twist my argument beyond nuance and context, to such an extreme that it sounded like I was saying that there's only one way to have fun in a game. Like I'm some fire-and-brimstone preacher! For example, I said that:
    And you took either that or something else in my post to mean that:
    For #1 and #2, I didn't ever say that the weakness system looms so large that it's absolutely necessary to utilize (or memorize) in order to win a battle. That was never my argument - I even went out of my way to say I understand it is not completely gamebreaking! So from my perspective, it really feels like in that moment you are sticking words in my mouth.

    When I objected, and asked you to understand that I was not implying that hitting elemental weaknesses/resists was not an all-encompassing black-hole that made combat impossible without it, you continued to accuse me of believing and arguing just that:
    That really hurt me, and it was the point where I felt I had to defend my reputation against false accusations, rather than moving the examination of mechanics forward.

    #3 brings up one of the other reasons I took issue with the way you were arguing:
    I believe this came from me saying that most players would find the mechanic frustrating and feel unfair. There was no need to take this to such an extreme that it meant "100% angry with the game, turn it off, and not play it". This sort of intertwines with "putting words in my mouth" above, so I'll leave it there, but the exaggeration was so heavy that it became an additional aggravating factor.

    The final thing that I took issue with was the condescending tone in the rhetorical questions you asked and accusations you made, which I felt was designed to make me look either stupid or willfully ignorant. This might be a misunderstanding, but if so, it's a takeaway that you could work on when you discuss things in any context:
    So those were the places where I felt it went off the rails and got me on my back foot, arguing against you rather than cooperatively adding to our theories. As I said in my PM, I sincerely appreciate that you want to move on past this and keep having good discussions, and I like you too - and thank you for your kind words. We always have interesting ideas to bounce off each other. It sounds like there were things I said that you took issue with as well, so if you want to air them out to me, please do feel free, or if you want to kind of just drop this and focus just on Design, that's cool too. But I wanted you to know what was bothering me about your arguments because the misrepresentations - whether real or perceived on my end - have been an obstacle to making the discussion productive.

    Additionally, for the scope of this thread, I'm asking you to give me the benefit of the doubt that I don't believe in "hand-holding" as you like to call it. Despite presenting the player with as much relevant information as possible, and explaining any gimmicks or twists before they put the player in a whole, I tend to get "too difficult" feedback more often than "too easy". I require my players to think hard and get creative about how they play off of these twists. I understand that you are calling it as you see it based on what I have written, but please just take for granted (for now) that I am not designing systems to hold the players' hands, and maybe you will see my arguments in this thread (particularly the ones about how strategy begins with having information) from a new perspective.


    ===


    Alright, back to discussion of Elements, Revenge, and Strategy!

    On Application of Strategy
    I agree that the difference in our philosophy seems to be that I believe Strategy works best when you can "Plan" strategy around information received upfront, whereas you believe the best Strategy places an emphasis on "Improvisation" (you were looking for a word to describe 'thinking on your feet' and I feel that Improvisation captures that dynamic nicely).

    I want to emphasize right away that when I say 'information received upfront', I do not mean being able to forecast every single thing that will happen during the game (or the single battle), but rather that there are no obscured mechanics that can directly act on you before you have knowledge of them. If your opponent makes a move you knew they could make, but that you didn't see coming, that forces you to think on your feet but the game design can still be fully "Planning"-centric.

    And I agree that Improvisation can be a great dynamic in video games! It's actually one of the top three dynamics I focused on delivering in timeblazer (Speed, Improvisation, and Reward Cycles). For the action games, the type of gameplay literally changes every 60 seconds, forcing you to adjust and perform something new, but you are told all of the rules and controls upfront so that you're never left confused. For the boss battles, every boss has a unique twist and sometimes I even add mechanics mid-battle - this post describes the boss I'm most proud of. But whenever I add a mechanic, I let the player know upfront how it works. In that example I linked, I make it obvious how the Mode selection works, and I also allow the player to see what traits that each Mode has (magic resist, discharge on 10 crits, etc.) in the Battle Status menu. I'm not telling the player how to react to these new mechanics and traits or how to beat the enemy using them, but I'm making it quite clear how those mechanics work as well as what could happen over the next few turns. My most recent feedback was that this is a hard battle, but no one ever said it felt unfair or arbitrary, and I believe that's because the player never gets hit by a mechanic that they can't see coming first.

    Essentially, that's how I capture the element of thinking on your feet - the awakening or Jolt as you like to call it, the moment of "wow, this changes how I need to play this" - without also giving the sense of a blindside, the moment of "come on, how could I possibly see that coming?". And because it interacts with the things you normally want to do anyway (exploit weaknesses, deal damage quickly, keep your party healthy, etc.) rather than "punishing" you for doing those things (using the term 'punish' very broadly), I think these kinds of mechanics feel very rewarding despite the fact that they make the battles genuinely tough.

    I've already spoken my peace on why I feel the "blindside" element does more harm than good, but the crux of what I'm saying here is that it's very feasible to have Improvisation or even the "Jolt" out of comfortable patterns, without needing to blindside the player.

    On Mental Bookkeeping
    For sure, if information is only needed once, and that one time is directly after you get that information, then it can't be Mental Bookkeeping. IIRC my mention of mental bookkeeping toward your Revenge system was with the understanding that some tough "normal" (repeatable) enemies would have them, and that in my opinion as a designer it's absolutely necessary to show any Revenges the player has already found for an enemy to avoid asking the player to do that (annoying and taxing) mental bookkeeping.

    I've definitely mentioned Mental Bookkeeping a ton when talking about Elemental weak/resist mechanics in general - and I'll continue to do so, because this is one of the most egregious forms of it in RPGs! There might be hundreds or enemies (or, at the very least, dozens of enemy types) throughout an RPG, and there might be 8-12 elements to keep track of. It is not interesting or fun to try and remember each enemy's weaks and resists! You know them - you've found them - you could write them down if you need to - but it splits your attention from (and, in the case where you can't recall their weaks/resists, obscures) more interesting strategic decisions, like whether to focus fire on a single threatening enemy or whether to have each character target an enemy that's weak to their element.

    (Tai, I wonder whether talk like this is what led to your construction that I feel that exploiting elemental weaks is absolutely necessary to win a fight. To be crystal-clear, what I am saying is that it is a strategic consideration, an opportunity to eke out an advantage - and that if a system is designed so that the player has to go through a chore like mental bookkeeping to open up even the opportunity, fewer players will use it and most of those that do will find it less satisfying.)

    I don't think that Economy of Actions (stuff like "Attacks will save time over looking through Skill menus") applies to either of our visions on what a good battle system will look like, so I feel safe in glossing over that point.

    On the Chess Analogy, and on Video Game Rules
    In my eyes, Chess is a great contrast to the Revenge system, rather than an analogy for it! In Chess, you know exactly what your opponent is allowed to do, when they are allowed to do it, and what will happen (from a mechanics point of view) when they choose to do it. Unless you simply miss something that's out in the open, you will be able to easily calculate every possible look of the board one or two turns away. Any Improvisation that takes place happens because your opponent did something that you didn't expect, using tools that you knew about and could have calculated the results of at any point.

    Contrast that with your Revenge system, where you don't know what your enemy can do, you don't know when it's going to trigger, and you don't know what will happen when you do trigger it - Status cleanse and Heal? Huge single-target attack? AoE damage plus Level 2 Sleep? I suppose a chess-like analogy for the Revenge system would be if landing your piece on certain squares caused your opponent to receive a new piece with completely unknown powers, and the opponent is forced to use that piece on the next turn instead of their intended move. And the squares that trigger this are different in every game of chess.

    (A version of Chess with some hidden information is Beirut Chess, but while players don't know what the "trigger" (bomb) piece is, they know exactly what will happen if a given piece does blow up. And given this information, they can try to deduce or bluff which piece is the trigger. I think this makes all the difference, and Beirut Chess sounds like a very fun game to me!)

    Like you mentioned, going into a segment of a single-player video game, players usually don't know what enemies can do. In this way, it's true that video games are not like chess and they don't need to be. However, good games give the player a few seconds to assess the enemy first. For example, Super Mario Bros. - the Goombas walk slowly across the screen at you; the Paratroopas float side-to-side or up-and-down. You know exactly what they are going to do and when. Admittedly RPGs tend to do a bad job at this, but at least the baseline understanding of "I use a move of my choice, and then the enemy selects a move from their list" remains consistent.

    I wonder if it might be more constructive to think of RPG enemies as Rules rather than as Opponents.

    On Information and its Role in your Revenge System
    I agree that your system would allow players to take their first turn in a relatively comfortable way (assuming they start the battle with full HP). Where I think it falls apart a little, is on tenet #4:
    I am going to assume that, on average, Revenge moves are significantly more useful to the Boss than a random move from their moveset would be (otherwise, where is the danger in Revenge, and why have it at all?). With that assumption in mind, the problem here is that the player may run into the Revenge at any point during the battle, including at a time where the boss' standard behavior already has the player in a weak position. Whereas with a known trigger (and unknown effect) the player can indeed do what you suggested and trigger it at the start of combat, with an unknown trigger the player has no such option - and in accordance with Murphy's Law, they are going to find out at the worst possible time. :D The wrong (unknown) effect at the wrong (unpredictable) time can change the situation from "a little rough" to "screwed". With that said, I think you're making a faulty assessment when you say "there is little to fear from triggering it". The major design risk here is of causing players to play "too scared", for example not exploring all of the elements in a given battle, or (if possible) topping their HP off every single turn. More on that below.

    I disagree with your point on the Illusion of Choice. You did identify the worst-case scenario that could come from such a system (player sees Trigger; decides to avoid taking that action at all costs), but if well-designed, I don't think this would be the usual outcome. I think players are more likely to avoid the action at small costs rather than at all costs! If they are in a comfortable position (e.g. high HP near the beginning of combat) and the action seems helpful (e.g. hitting the Fire weakness), they can make the decision to check that trigger near the beginning of battle (should be a "small cost" to weather that Revenge since they're in a good position) - but it won't blindside them on Turn 4 when they're in a pickle already. And if they're in a bad position and the action can get them out of it (e.g. party is gravely injured, Trigger is "heal 5 times", and you've already healed 4), the player will need to interact with it anyhow - heal and try to brave whatever happens. Maybe the Revenge is that the boss permanently increases its stats. That would make for an interesting dynamic.

    Finally, you mention that a player could react in different ways when they find one of a boss' Revenge mechanics:
    That is great in theory, and ideally you want these to all be live options in most situations. But realistically, how often do you think #3 will be their reaction? I fear the answer will be "most of the time", especially given that (as assumed above) the Revenge is more dangerous/useful than an average boss skill, and there are other elemental weaknesses you can use on the boss instead.

    Worth noting is that all three of these are also live options once the player has discovered a Revenge effect in my suggestion where the player knows the Trigger upfront.

    Ultimately, I think it will be tough to design in a way that all of these are live options in most fights where Revenges appear. If you can make it happen, my hat will be off to you! It will be my pleasure to try out your system when you've got it working in action.

    In the meantime, my instinct is that the best way to go about doing so is to try to keep the Revenge moves very different in nature from what the player was trying to do when they Triggered the Revenge. For example, Elemental Weaknesses (intended to inflict damage) would never result in a Heal or Blind move from the enemy. Status Weaknesses would never trigger a Revenge that negates their own effect - using an ATK debuff would never cause the enemy to use an extreme-damage attack, nor a self ATK buff, as their Revenge, for example.

    Examining the Best (and Worst) of Each System
    Finally, I'd like to take an objective look at what each system (your system of Naive Revenge vs. my system of Known Triggers, Unknown Revenge Effects) has to offer, and what potential design opportunities and pitfalls each one holds. I'd be interested to know whether you agree with this assessment, or whether you see other outcomes as even better ideals (or even worse nightmares) for either system.

    NAIVE REVENGE:
    • Worst-case scenario: The player finds an elemental weakness (or effective state, etc.) that does not have a Revenge trigger, and knowing that one of the other weaknesses will trigger a dangerous Revenge, simply spams that Element all battle long as the safest and most effective tactic.
    • Best-case scenario: The player happens to hit an elemental weakness that triggers a Revenge, at a point when they're not in danger already, and - taking the setback in stride - realizes they can interrupt the enemy's patterns by forcing them to use that Revenge at a tactical time
    KNOWN TRIGGERS, UNKNOWN EFFECTS:
    • Worst-case scenario: The player sees a trigger (such as an obvious elemental weakness) at the beginning of the fight, and decides the best thing to do is to simply ignore that element for the entire fight so as to not hit the weakness and trigger the Revenge.
    • Best-case scenario: The player sees a trigger exists, and intentionally hits it when they are feeling safe, knowing that they can either use the Trigger to alter enemy behavior to their advantage (same as in your system), or because they might need to take whatever actions trigger the Revenge (e.g. a Revenge that triggers every X times your party heals); once they know the Revenge action, they use it in a tactical way for the rest of the battle.
     
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  7. Diretooth

    Diretooth Lv. 23 Werewolf Veteran

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    For me, I keep elements simple. Six elements, Fire, which consumes Wind, which blows away Stone, which absorbs Water, which quenches fire, and Holy and Dark that act as direct foils to one another. It's a fairly straightforward system that the player characters are part of. Each character has an innate element. Let's say Harold is Fire Innate. He will receive more damage from Water, take neutral damage from Stone and Fire, and take less damage from Wind (The reason he's not outright immune to fire is that he's not an Elemental and for balance reasons.)
    Elementals take much more damage from their opposing element, and are thus easy to kill when you have a basic grasp of the system. Most other enemies, however, are not so obvious, and you will learn their Innate Element through trial and error, or through their preferred elemental attacks, if they have them.
    Holy and Dark are, of course, the domains of beings that are either divine or dark in nature. (and in most of my stories, 'holy' is only referred to as such by the Gods, even though Dark is just as divine. Humans sure are afraid of the dark.)
     
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  8. ScientistWD

    ScientistWD Innocuous Veteran

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    My latest project did not take much advantage of "elements" at all.
    But my current one takes a tiny approach.
    Which is to say, there are only a small handful of highly useful spells in the game, including the spells that enemies have access to. As an example, Fire I and Fire II (the only fire spells) deal damage to multiple random opponents. I have noticed a few advantages to this philosophy:
    1. It is extremely easy to recognize when elemental resistance or affinity is relevant.
    2. Enemy weaknesses or resistances are linked to the narrow mechanical scope of each elemental spell. For example, if an enemy is weak to fire, the spell hits opponents randomly; you might hit something else, which would be a waste.
    Also consider that there could be more to elements than weakness or resistance. For example, is it really a good idea to set a tree enemy on fire? Will they get more aggressive, or will the fire spread out of control? Will hitting a robot with electricity cause it to malfunction, or will it harness the electricity for more power as well as taking damage? Of course, things like this should be featured appropriately, but it is something I rarely see done.
     
    #48
  9. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I'm going to skip the stuff about apologies and who was in the wrong. I sort of just want to get back to the discussion and would rather consider myself in the wrong than simply try to discuss it at length.

    I agree, I don't want to "blindside" the player. I just don't want to "give away the game", as it were. I don't mean "make it too easy" with that phrase either. I mean "give up that moment of being challenged when the enemy actually reacts to what you're doing".

    My desire to not blindside the player has lead to initial hits of "Revenge" being more or less "time wasters" while NPC's tell them about how stronger monsters don't like it when you exploit their obvious weaknesses (by initial hits, I mean early game bosses, I still want to ramp up the feature later to provide a little bit more challenge, or alter the flow of combat). In short, I don't want the players to see the strings of the puppets. I don't want to break immersion by telling them exactly what the mechanic is called internally, exactly how it works, and how to avoid it so that they never hit it.

    I want to maintain the illusion that the monster will react to things they do. Maybe even slightly intelligently. Though, admittedly, the goal of the "Revenge" system did not start out with this in mind. The goal of it evolved from the limited amount of playtesting I'd done and what I'd noticed from watching youtube videos on "AI Design". There was one particular video about "F.E.A.R." and the way its AI worked that sort of mirrored what I was doing and I got this idea in my head of making "Revenge" more than what it was (to sort of fall more in line with what F.E.A.R. does).

    "Revenge", initially, started as just a "hard counter" to the "Exploit Elemental Weakness" system every RPG has. Most players will assume plants will take a lot of damage to fire, so they won't think about it, and just use fire on the plants. I didn't want the player relying so heavily on this sort of thinking as I was basically allowing the player to "easymode" the game by giving away the weaknesses of most of the enemies. Essentially, what I was teaching the player with every new encounter, every new dungeon, and every new element, was what it was good against, what was good against it, and subtly teaching the player how to get the most out of their weapons/armor/skills.

    This "hard counter" was necessary to an extent due to how powerful I'd made the players. Which, was a necessity of wanting the player to value expending their Skills every single turn rather than always hitting "Attack" to win. It was also a necessity of wanting the player to value which armor they were wearing at any given time and what weapons they were using at any given time. The correct choices, being very powerful decisions.

    As such, "Revenge" was simply a puzzle piece. A reminder to players that just because I'd given them the tools to steamroll the game, the bosses (or rather, myself) weren't going to take that lying down, and were going to make it challenging for you as well.

    But, that's boring.

    Very boring.

    And sometimes feels "cheap".

    The videos I'd been watching, especially the one on "F.E.A.R" had told me that your AI doesn't have to be smart. They need only to provide the Illusion that they're being smart. The illusion of providing a challenge. If they announce your location, it sounds as if they're being smart. If they announce what you're doing, it seems like they probably have programming to react to that. If they announce that they're going to flank you, the player's immediate response is to try to stop that action or to watch for it incoming (even if they never actually attempt to flank you).

    My take-away from this was, "If it appears as if the enemy is reacting to something the player is doing, then the player will attempt to engage in more strategy in order to counter it".

    In that moment, I knew that "Revenge" could be more than a "hard counter" to a necessary aspect of my combat system. It could do anything. So long as it looked like the boss monsters were reacting to what the player was doing and was punishing "complacency" (players using the same well-worn tactics they'd learned early in the game and would probably use them as a crutch all the way to the end).

    When I was redesigning the system, the image constantly in my head was "In a game with a lot of cover, the thing the AI does to keep you from getting complacent in a shooter like that, is to throw grenades at you to flush you out of cover or to rush and flank your position so that your cover is worthless". That was the design goal. To keep the player from finding that comfort zone and using it all the time. To "throw a grenade" at them behind cover when they'd gotten complacent. To "flank them so their cover was worthless" when they got complacent. To force the player to make different decisions than they normally would.

    And then... to curse at the AI for having done it.

    So, as long as my "Revenge" mechanic works as that sort of "grenade to flush you out of cover" type mechanic in shooters, I don't honestly care too much about how it's implemented. The reason I've kept it so long, other than the initial reasoning, is for this effect. The Turn-Based RPG version of flushing the player out of cover when they spend too much time in one spot plinking away enemies like it's "Whack a Mole".

    I'll go a little bit more into detail on it a bit later.

    I've sort of had a lot of time to try to think up how to explain what I was trying to do, so hopefully it makes a lot more sense now, and my goals are quite a bit more clear (rereading old posts, I've way too vague for anyone to grasp what I'm trying to do, and have been having trouble describing it).

    My personal stance is that "Mental Bookkeeping" is not always a bad thing. Nor does it always deter a player from enjoying a game... or deter a lot of players from making a game extremely popular.

    I think it works just like anything else. If you go in, knowing what the flaws are, knowing the issues, and spend time to mitigate those issues, you can take something that most people agree is universally despised, and turn it into a really fun core feature of your game.

    So, because of this belief, I find myself at odds with your belief on it (you'll have to correct me if I'm wrong) that it is best to keep the mental bookkeeping down to a complete minimum.

    While I do not want players memorizing the weaknesses of every single one of my monsters (because even as a game dev, I'm not even going to know that), I do not see the harm in having the player memorize about a dozen elements for attacking and then about a dozen "archetypes" that they can use this knowledge on. I think it's better to design in such a way that a player can make a reasonable assumption on what to do, even if that assumption is wrong in a handful of cases. For me, the issue arises when that "reasonable assumption" being wrong is at about 15%, that there are likely some issues with signposting or teaching. Or, maybe, just enemy design.

    The entire issue might just be where we each personally draw the line at "how much bookkeeping is too much?". I know there's probably a wrong answer of "memorize at least 30 things" in place across all players, but below that number, we might have trouble finding an "absolute" answer. At which point, we need to make a choice as devs of what sort of audience we are trying to attract.

    To be quite honest, I don't think the Chess analogy works well when we're discussing video games. I was attempting to use it in the most broad sense possible simply because you'd mentioned it and I thought I could maybe make my point using it.

    As such... I'm going to just kind of throw away the "physical board games" comparisons since... they don't really translate to most RPG's very well. I hope you don't mind.

    In terms of an RPG, the player does not know any of the rules right away. Even more, the enemies do not play by the same rules the player does. Veterans of RPGs inherently know this. The enemy can do whatever it is programmed to do. No matter how fair or unfair. Some enemies do one thing, other enemies do another, and sometimes just this one enemy plays by its own set of rules you will never see again.

    Info dumping the player on what "the most common rules are" usually does not go over well with players. Their eyes glaze over and they start wishing for a "skip" button in the tutorial. Often, it is faster to teach the player what they need to know, when they need to know it. It also works a lot better as players remember practical real world experience more often than they remember what some instructions they had to read said.

    So, the dev's job is to "establish the rules" as well as "establish when the rules change". Usually, about all a dev can do is tell the player what they can do. There's no way we can cover the mechanic of every enemy or skill or whatever. The easiest and most practical option is just to tell the player what they can do. These skills do this, these items do that, this is how your actions interact with the world.

    So, getting back to my mention of "throwing a grenade at the player", that's what I'm seeking to do. I'm seeking to establish, through player experience, and a little bit of NPC dialogue, that there's a mechanic every boss in the game has. This mechanic is sometimes carried over to "rare and powerful regular encounters" as well. Without proper playtesting, I simply have no way to know if the player actually "learns" this lesson very well. I want them to understand it by about the third boss fight. I want them to know that the boss can "throw a grenade at them", but not what action of theirs will trigger it. I also don't want them to know what flavor of grenade it will be. Flashbang? Incendiary? Frag? Pipe? Flechette(sp?)?

    In my opinion, the player need only know what actions they can take, and that the all the bosses can "throw a grenade" at them, whatever form that takes. They have the tools to evade that grenade, completely nullify its damage, force the boss to throw a grenade when it would otherwise fire a rocket launcher at you, or to recover from the effects of the grenade relatively quickly without losing the fight.

    I hope that makes a lot more sense. If it doesn't... well... I'll try to explain it better next time.

    Also, that version of chess sounds pretty fun. Which is probably why I prefer Stratego over Chess, ha ha. I play overly aggressive in Chess and often sacrifice a lot of pieces for single-minded objectives (I've been known to sacrifice half my pieces to take a queen... I tend to play as if morale is a thing in chess). I do better at Strategy where every piece has a role and it counts, and if you lose it, you now can't "adapt" as easily as you might in Chess.

    This is accurate. By design, the best moves in the boss's repertoire are the "Revenge" actions. I did also worry about causing a "game over" when it wasn't warranted. I wanted to avoid the "surprise game over!" from usage of the mechanic. I did not want it to feel like the boss was using an "arbitrary nuke".

    However, at some point, I simply had to draw a line. At some point, I had to decide what my limit was for a player "playing too recklessly". At what point is it okay for "Revenge" to take out the player? I think this is a distinction you should make in your own system as well. At what point, do you think it is acceptable to punish the player for playing poorly? My answer was "under half of your health remaining".

    I decided on this for a few reasons.
    1. I have a Currency Sink that I want players using. They should be buying consumables and using consumables when necessary.
    2. Healing in combat should be a necessary lull in combat as the result of requiring the player to play defensively or requiring the player to exploit gaps in attack cycles to get their healing.
    3. There are no "Dedicated Healer" classes. The player can expect to mitigate status debuffs with a character in the late game, but they will universally be reliant on healing with single-target consumables.
    4. I wanted combat to be tactical and not "Brute Force". Knocking Out a player at half health seemed like a reasonable amount of leeway to give most standard players. "I want you to play at least this good" was my thinking. If your health dips below half, you aren't playing well enough. Or, it should be the sign that things are going badly and you need to shift focus.

    So, while I don't want players to "play too scared", I don't want them playing too recklessly either. I want them spending money on consumables, and then deciding in combat when those consumables would best be used, and only having a "Revenge" punish players who are refusing to use those consumables, or refusing to spend turns recovering from damage/states.

    With that being said, I think there are reasons to fear triggering it, but they aren't the "emergency" type of fear. I think this for a few reasons:
    1. I don't think most players will spend a lot of time trying to find the weakness of the boss. If they know a possible answer, they'll use it. If that answer triggers "Revenge", they simply know to avoid that single element. They might try to find another weakness, or they may ignore finding weaknesses entirely.
    2. The damage or setback from "Revenge" isn't meant to be enough to mop the floor with the player on the first couple rounds. Finding it later in combat isn't likely to wipe your party, unless you were already doing things very poorly to start with (like you have half of your health or less remaining on every character).
    3. Most skills are not "multi-target", especially from enemies. It is a rare thing when an enemy will hit the whole party with something. "Revenge" is usually reserved for such a mechanic, though it isn't exclusive to it. So, if the enemy using "Revenge" wipes your whole party and it was not my intent to have such a thing happen, the blame lies solely with the player.
    4. There are instances where the player will be absolutely immune to whatever the "Revenge" mechanic is. Let's say you have reduced damage from Fire/Water attacks on your characters when you hit the Fire Elemental with Water and trigger the "Superheated Steam" Revenge. In such an instance, you would take much less damage, or even zero damage. There may also be instances where the player has done content "out of order" from what I thought they might do, so their stats are higher than I anticipated, so the "Revenge" doesn't matter so much as it will just do less damage, or that damage will be better mitigated by much higher HP.

    Does that make any sort of sense?

    I think you overestimate the player in this instance. Just my opinion. Players tend to avoid "unfavorable outcomes" if they can. Every HP of damage you take is an action you have to spend getting that HP back. Every state inflicted on you is an action spent getting rid of it. The player, by and large, will play as efficiently as possible. Why bother triggering the "Revenge" if it can be avoided and you don't have to expend resources to find out what it is?

    I might be out of line in saying this, but the thought crosses my mind:

    If the player is going to expend resources to figure out what the Revenge is... why couldn't that be its own mechanic? The player can expend an item... say... an orb or something (Scrying comes to mind when I think about it) to learn everything about the "Revenge" mechanics in play. I think this would allow for better planning for the player who wants to do so. Maybe you could spend a resource at the beginning of the dungeon to get a single orb, and it works only for that boss, and only for that dungeon. Maybe it costs a percentage of your Currency or something. Or, a set amount of consumables. Something that would scale with difficulty.

    My thinking is that the player then has the option to buy this item at the beginning of the dungeon, then they have the option to use it on the boss (I propose at the beginning of the dungeon and to make it exclusive to the dungeon in order to prevent savescumming, or holding onto a cheaply obtained version of the item to use on a later boss) at the very beginning of combat in order to discover the "Revenge" mechanic. It will tell them what triggers it, what element it is, how many targets it hits, and a relative power rating (I'd express the power rating probably as the bonus numbers added to the stat being used to generate the damage... something like that). At that point, they can decide whether or not it is worth trying for the "Revenge" mechanic before taking any sort of damage and needing to expend actions in combat reversing the effects of it.

    Could make for an interesting mechanic, maybe? I don't know. For me, it seems a bit more fair. The player can spend a bit to find out information on the boss. Expend resources now or expend them later. Expend them later during the difficult boss fight, or expend them now to make the boss fight easier later. Sort of a "choose your preferred difficulty"? Though, to be honest, if the orb went unused during the boss fight, I'd probably reward unique loot of some kind for choosing not to use it and having spent the resources on it anyway.

    Personally, I think there comes an acceptable time to punish players who are playing poorly. Though, what the dev determines "playing poorly" is, largely falls to what the dev decides. I would personally never have "Revenge" triggered from the player healing a bunch of times, but I could envision a system in which that works very well, and the player is conditioned to watch their actions more closely as a measure of determining if they're doing well or not. I feel like if a player is in a position to be taken out by Turn Four and accidently triggering my own "Revenge" mechanic, then they sort of deserve it.

    However, I do think your own "Revenge" system has some merits of its own. I just don't think it solves any of the problems my own system has. I think it simply tackles them differently and has different shortcomings.

    For example, I don't think players will choose to play sub-optimally. If they know what the "Revenge" mechanic is up front, unless they know they can withstand it, or it isn't going to be a bother at all, they won't use that option very much. The same with my own. They hit the element that triggers "Revenge" and then they decide to never hit it again for the same reason. The difference is very much at what point the player decides to avoid "Revenge". In your system, they decide on turn one, action one. In mine... they decide only once they've triggered it (which could be at any time during combat). In your system, your players may never see your Revenge Mechanic by knowing what it will do. In my system, they will only avoid seeing it through a modicum of random chance (whether this is better for the player is going to be left up to individual devs. I think it's better that the player get to experience as many "Revenge" hits as possible to spice up combat and to make the feature actually worth the time investment. Another dev may decide that the high probability of seeing so many Revenges with no real option to avoid them is frustrating and annoying to the player).

    Honestly, I like your version of the system. I really do. I just don't think it does all the things I want it to do in my own game. I also don't think it solves many of the problems you have proposed my own system causes. That's not to say I've solved all my own problems. However, I am largely aware of the issues and it is one of the reasons my own "Revenge" mechanic is so highly specialized to fit my own game. I wouldn't be able to just make a "generalized" version of the mechanic and slap it into every game. The way it is designed would not work in any other game except my own. I think your system actually works as a fantastic "starting point" for the concept.

    I'm not sure if that makes sense. I like your system as the "baseline". It would work in pretty much any game you wanted to put it into without many issues at all. I think your system works as a "starting point". Something to be built upon. It's very versatile that way. Lots of options for improvement and to turn it into something anyone could use if they wanted to.

    My own system though? It's very rigid. It's had to be redesigned several times as I've worked with it. I can still remove it at any time if it proves to not work as intended and I can't make it work that way... But, there's no way I could ever put it into another game as it is designed now. It simply interlocks with too many systems and reinforces other systems in my game. If I change any minor point of my overall design philosophy of my game, the "Revenge" mechanic as I'm using it right now... ceases to work. As in, it doesn't synergize well. It will feel "tacked on".

    Honestly, my anticipation is that the players will avoid the Revenge Mechanic most of the time. Once discovered, I anticipate at least a 90% avoidance rate (that's 90% of players will avoid triggering it again). I'm not really operating under any illusions that most of my players will decide to just tank the hits or use it strategically. I know most players won't.

    What I'm counting on is those 10% of other players. The ones who see it, study it, and then work to exploit it. The ones who come up with strategies to overcome it. For me, those other options exist for those players. The players who won't avoid hitting it once discovered.

    But, for me, the joy is that maybe one of the 90% spends about half the game accidently triggering "Revenge" and dealing with, but then they have a "eureka" moment. Maybe they spend that other half of the game as one of the 10% from that point forward. Or, they lay somewhere in the middle, in which if they can exploit it, they will, and if they can't, they'll just never trigger it again.

    My hope is that by surprising the player with "Revenge", they can see it's not so scary. Sort of like when any person does something they're scared of doing for the first time. Asking out your crush is terrifying, until you find yourself doing it. Until you find yourself mid conversation, heart in your throat, just hoping you're not making a rear out of yourself and no longer caring what the answer is... But... then you get the answer... and you're either elated 'cause they said "yes", or relieved they said "no", so you no longer have to make a fool of yourself in front of them and feel awkward.

    Essentially, I want to see if being hit by "Revenge" so suddenly changes some of the 90% into the 10%.

    But, I get to do that, 'cause I'm doing experimental nonsense. If it fails hard, then at least we've got a case study in which we can tell people what went wrong, why you don't do it, and how it can definitely be improved next time.

    Though, my interest in video games has always been about "What will the player do?" and "How will the player act/react?". I like creating those experiences where I get to see that. Especially when I can find a way to make one player do something in my game that they would never do in any other game they've ever played. :D I have lofty dreams for being such a stupid rank amateur. :D

    I agree. It's the reason I'm not really designing it so that all the options are present at all times, in every fight. I'm aware that most will choose to avoid hitting "Revenge" more than once. I am okay with this. But, even those people... they got to see it just once. So, it wasn't wasted. They had to deal with it just once. So, it wasn't wasted. It wasn't designed for no purpose at that point.

    What I want to make happen is that some people decide to do the other options and really enjoy the experience of doing so. Then, those people will spread it around to others who are playing the game so others can maybe enjoy it in the same way.

    I dunno. I'm trying to design a system that works for two sets of players. "Casual" type players and the more "Hardcore" crowd. Make their specific interactions with the game fun for them specifically. If you're "Casual", you will do this. If you're "Hardcore", you will do this. Same system, unchanged. All in a matter of how it's used by the players.

    That's very difficult to design. :D Believe me, I'm trying.

    I agree to an extent. :D

    My own personal philosophy is not to have enemies do things just because it would make combat more difficult. After all, it's "Revenge". They are doing something out of Revenge for what you just did to them. I would not have an enemy "heal themselves" unless it was fitting for the character or monster to do so. Pretty much every "Revenge" in my system currently runs on just "hurting the player back". They are things that tend to make a bit of sense. Well, they make sense to me.

    If an enemy is weak to "Magic", and you hit them with a skill that uses it, they will likely hit you with "Silence" to prevent you from doing it again. It might even be spread across the whole party. If an enemy is very weak to "Blind", they may "Charge Recklessly" in an effort to do damage to you if they manage to hit you.

    The first priority in the effects is to add "flavor" to the enemies. The second priority is to make the player spend some actions reversing it, or to change up their tactics after triggering it.

    But, no matter how it's done, it needs to make sense to the player as well. It needs an internal consistency.

    I agree with these. Though, I think the worst case for "Naïve Revenge" in my opinion is that the player ignores the system altogether. They ignore whether they're hitting Revenge or not. They don't care if they do or not. They Brute Force the whole system and win regardless of its existence. They tune out. It's something I worry about constantly. It is one thing to figure out the other element that doesn't trigger Revenge and spam it all combat to win... it's quite another to just use your best attacks all the time, regardless of what the boss does and continue to win. At least in that first way, I've managed to teach the player the mechanic, they've figured out their own way to beat it, and they're exploiting it. The other way makes me look like a fool and like I wasted my time putting the mechanic together.

    I think the advantages to your system are that it is more "user friendly" and less "specialized". You can obviously do a lot more with your system than I would ever be able to do with mine. You could have any trigger you like in combat. You wouldn't even need to call it "Revenge". For example, if you hit an enemy with "Poison" in your system, the enemy could change forms entirely and offer different amounts of XP, Currency, and drops from killing them. The possibilities with your system are fairly endless. Though, it does suffer the same issue mine does. You would need to paint the system in a fairly broad way that it's better to see what the triggers do, rather than avoid them. You would likely need to make the triggers 60% positive and 40% negative to give the illusion to the player that there are very few "bad things" that happen with it. Or, maybe make them benign. If your triggers primarily cause harm or discomfort to your players, they are very likely to be ignored because the player knows how to trigger them.

    Your system would probably even allow you to fake real "AI" in your game fairly well, if you desired it to do so. It would definitely allow for a very large capacity for "scripting" combat encounters.

    Though, to be quite honest, I think we should probably name it something else. Honestly, my "Revenge" system only really applies to the super highly specialized version of what you're proposed.

    There should be a name for systems that use "Enemy Triggers" as a main focus of combat.

    "Reactive Combat" maybe? Would that work?

    Your system is a "Reactive Combat" system, and mine is a super highly specialized and ripped apart version I call "Revenge Mechanics"?

    I dunno, the names you're using are a bit too technical for my tastes, ha ha. "Naïve Revenge" sounds a little condescending to my ear (despite being an accurate portrayal of the system) and "Known Triggers, Unknown Effects" is kind of a mouthful.
     
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