Zodiac kinda thingamajig (?)

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by JensDuck, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. JensDuck

    JensDuck Villager Member

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    Has anyone done anything with Zodiac signs? Like should I ask the birthdate like the start of Final Fantasy Tactics? Or should I have them select one of the twelve, assuming they know there sign?

    Just curious if there is any forsure way to have that play with other NPCs.
     
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  2. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    When you played Final Fantasy Tactics, did you find that managing zodiac signs to be fun?

    Sure, it's novel, but is it fun?
     
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  3. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I think it could be be if done with a bit more finesse than FFT. FFT's main problems were that you couldn't switch party members mid combat and that synergies went both ways, so all you could really do is move forward with combat that either ended more quickly due to high synergy or more slowly do to lower synergy. The only real strategic element was that you could make sure Ramza's sign meshed well with as many others as possible (I recall Scorpio being a good choice) to boost the power of healing abilities, increase chance of resurrection and status buffs working, etc.

    In contrast, if your game has a good number of available characters, all with varying signs, and signs function more in a paper-rock-scissors way instead of how they worked in FFT, then swapping characters based on enemy signs could make for an interesting strategic mechanic. It might even be a neat way to encourage people to use all the party members instead of clinging to 4 favorites while ignoring the rest.
     
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  4. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    What's the fundamental difference between Aries beats Taurus (or whatever) and Fire beats Ice?

    I don't see much of a point.
     
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  5. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    As much of a fan as I am of FFT, I found the "Zodiac" influences to be negligible in the overall strategy of the game. I honestly never noticed a difference. I was too focused on Brave and Faith. So.. Zodiac could be fun and interesting.. if it's more of the focal point of the battle strategies.. but if it's just a "oh, you know what we could do? Lets just throw in Zodiac compatibility and see how that goes!", then I'd say leave it out. :)

    -MIA
     
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  6. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    One is locked to a specific character or enemy (zodiac sign) whereas the other is just one element among many you can choose from in your spellbook. Well, unless you go with the "this character's element is fire" route, which I can't really say I'm a fan of.

    That said, I'm not advocating using such a system--I have no plans on using anything like it in my current project or even the next 3 after that. I'm just offering up ways that someone might be able to use it in a game if they want it.
     
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  7. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    @Aesica, they're the same thing. The player is going into a menu, selecting the skill that exploits the weakness and dealing more damage than other skills. The only fundamental difference is that one might have a learning curve. They don't *feel* different.
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @Eschaton I believe that @Aesica is saying that it's not the Skill that is linked to a zodiac symbol, but rather the Character. Two characters might use the same skill, and one will exploit an enemy's zodiac weakness while another won't. This may sound complicated, but it's actually slightly easier on the player than stanadard elements are, because of the consistency with how it will operate. (With that being said, you wouldn't want to include both zodiac signs and elements in such a system.)

    This could be especially cool if zodiac synergies within your party also make characters a little stronger when working together, but the comparative advantages between your signs and your enemies' signs matter even more. As long as you have a way to ensure that party members stay relatively equal in level and power throughout the game, the effect of such a system would be to encourage the player to use the characters who can dominate the enemies' zodiac signs, and then - secondarily - choose other characters to include in the battle party that work well with those characters (without choosing ones who are weak to these particular enemy zodiacs). I think this two-layer process would be very cool!! Every set of enemy zodiacs would act as a new 'puzzle' to fit together, with a new set of characters and a reason to figure out how to best use that particular set of characters.
     
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  9. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    @Wavelength

    Whether it's a skill or an actor, my point still stands. Mechanically, there is no difference between an element and an element.
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I feel that your point is overly reductive, though.

    When a character has two (or more) skills that deal damage of different elements, you simply pick one skill over the other to exploit an enemy's elemental weakness. (Also, your character generally won't have weaknesses/resists to specific enemy elements.)

    On the other hand, when a character has an innate element that applies to every one of their skills (the 'zodiac' style), then depending on the battle system, you are either locked in to using that character's "element" and need to figure out how you can make the best of a poor situation, or you can try switching (to an entirely different character with a completely different set of stats and utilities) in order to exploit a better "elemental" matchup.

    Mechanically they're similar, like you said - but they create very different Dynamics in combat when the systems around them are designed properly.
     
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  11. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    @Wavelength I understand what you mean, I really do. And I know this board isn't meant for discussion of implementation of mechanics...but seeing as how these are RPG Maker Forums, the question will inevitably shift to implementation of FFT's Zodiac mechanic on an RPG Maker platform.

    Short of a script or plugin, I can't imagine how Zodiac synergy/opposition could be implemented on an RPG Maker platform. Zodiacs would have to govern everything from damage, accuracy, efficacy of states, and the platform really doesn't support a single mechanic that can govern those. To my knowledge anyway. At best, developer can create a system of interconnected elements that have the same rock-paper-scissors dynamic as the usual fire-ice-lightning paradigm seen in JRPGs. The only real difference would be that the player lacks the familiarity the usual paradigm would have.

    So, that's why I'm being reductive.

    It might be an interesting or novel concept...but 'will it be fun?' is still the operative question besides 'can it be implemented?'

    To either question, I can only say 'I don't know, probably not.'
     
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  12. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @Eschaton Right on. You brought up some good questions. I think such a system would be able to hit the mark, both in RPGM implementation and in whether it's fun.

    For implementation, a plugin would definitely be the best way to go, but it could also be evented without extreme trouble. The implementation could either use States (added via Troop eventing, probably at the beginning of battle) which increase/decrease stats or give additional skills/effects based on the zodiac connections made with friends and enemies... or it could use two different sets of 'Elements' (one for damage skills and one for healing/support skills) and every skill assigned to a battler would be given that element (meaning that multiple versions might be created for the same skill as given to battlers with different zodiacs). It's certainly not easy without the use of plugins, but the point of a flexible engine is to allow you to take the time and implement the hard stuff.

    Even the plugin approach wouldn't be too hard - I feel like it's something I could write within a day; maybe more if we wanted a lot of visual indicators for player clarity. The hardest part, honestly, would probably be the design aspect: how to design the bonuses/advantages so that they offer enough incentive to use different team compositions against different troops, but also are not so extreme that they create a binary win/lose based on what team composition you're using.

    As far as fun - this is obviously subjective, but I think a lot of the fun would come from the way that the player is encouraged to work with a new team composition in different battles/dungeons. It's like being asked to solve different puzzles with different combinations of tools - 'improvisation' as it's sometimes called. You have to think a little to figure out how to best leverage those tools - and when you figure something out and get into a great flow where your characters are maximizing their potential, it's going to feel really good.

    As Nietzsche wrote: "What is happiness? — The feeling that power increases — that a resistance is overcome." When the implicit 'puzzle' presented by battle is the same each time, you're only really overcoming the resistance once, then you're just implementing the same solution ad nauseum. But when you're constantly asked to do it a little differently because a few pieces of the puzzle change, you can gain that fleeting feeling of happiness again and again. I think that's why improvisation is a really good tool for achieving 'Fun' in video games.
     
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  13. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Not true at all. Let's break this into the simplest possible terms:

    In universe 1, Harold has Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder spells. Based on his enemies' weaknesses, he can select the best possible spell to use in a given situation. The player is engaged in the weakness exploitation process.

    In universe 2, Harold is an Aries and will always be effective against (for example) Taurus, but ineffective against Gemini. The player is not engaged in the weakness exploitation process at all. (Unless in-battle character switching is both allowed and encouraged, and the player has a large character pool to draw from)

    Not sure how to make it any clearer.

    Edit: That said, it'd actually be a really easy plugin to make. I made a racial modifiers plugin not long ago that would use the same basic concepts: Tag actors/enemies with a sign and define sign +/- modifiers. But again, the critical differnce is that you can choose to equip or unequip a dragonslayer sword, you can choose to use Turn Undead against the proper type of foe, but once your main character is an Aries, he's always an Aries.

    No real engagement, just flavor.
     
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  14. JensDuck

    JensDuck Villager Member

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    Wow, this really involved and evolved, lol now looking back, I should just do a secondary class, and just fill it with whole star alignment signs.

    --Thanks, everyone. Quackastic replies!
     
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  15. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    That sounds like you are describing Pokemon. Ergo, an element system. @Eschaton being reductive makes perfect sense to me. The only difference is that with elements attached to individual spells/skills you have more freedom, and with elements attached to the whole character you have less.

    Element systems can be fun when done well. I'm not a fan of the overly simplistic systems that just increase/decrease damage, but even that can work well. I think the original question is actually one of narrative design: are zodiac symbols an interesting form of lore?

    For me, no. I find them to be a dumb superstition that make no sense :hswt: But there are a lot of people who are really into them! So it could be dicey if thrown into standard RPG. Like, why does it matter what zodiac I am when I'm chopping a dude's head off? But if it was advertised up front as being a part of the game (like in its title and/or tagline) then you'll be sure to grab the right audience.
     
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  16. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    Actually.......

    In FFT, the Zodiac thing doesn't actually matter much, no? I don't really care about it that much.

    Tho, one fun idea for zodiac is actually something to do with astrology. It'd be fun to have environment or to be more precise, stars affecting the party. Like, during this chapter, Mars is dominating Aquarius, so a char who's Aquarius will gain +bonus strength until Mars goes away or when Sun is in Libra, increase wind elemental effect 25%/50%. That way, you can also have a situation where your zodiac constellation is on a bad angle with some planets so it give some of your chars bad effect so that the player has to adjust tactics and engaging in a new play style.
    It can work with day-night system where player can keep track of your in-game celestial bodies in your sky map, but having a strict timeline can also be fun. You can also have players go buy gemstone or do some ritual mini-game that can alter the celestial bodies affect upon each zodiac sign like, a zodiac accessory to increase effect on your zodiac or item that cancel out celestial aura or something if you don't want it(but make it an effort to do so). And just throw in an Astrologer char who just stargaze to tell and predict next effect, or just have observatory tower built on every single town.
     
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  17. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Yes, but grossly simplified. In Pokemon, you at least have the strategic element of choosing which pokemon to use. Unless the proposed zodiac system offered a lot of characters to choose from in a similar fashion, then yeah, it's not nearly as engaging as pokemon.

    Not really. The only real player engagement came from ensuring everyone in your party synergized with one another to maximize your healing, buffing, and such. Since buffs and raises were (annoyingly) not always guaranteed to work, every little thing to push them to 100% helped.
     
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