Author Topic: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics  (Read 5181 times)

requerent

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Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« on: May 21, 2012, 03:47:18 AM »
I was just wondering what inventory/advancement/battle mechanics you all feel were interesting. Not necessarily well implemented or appropriately balanced, but offering an interesting range of gameplay. I'm primarily looking for novel or innovative systems that deviate from the standard.

FF8, for example, seemed very novel. A lot of room for customization, but the system failed because that customization ended up being illusory and exploitable in terms of maximizing power (good choices were obvious-- an unnecessary amount of options). The idea that you have a static progression and several modular options is a premise for good design, especially when you want to abstract the system beyond RPG characters. The relationship between equipment and materia in FF7 made for some interesting strategic approaches, but in both cases all of the 'skill' comes from preparing your characters, not from the actual implementation.

I tend to dislike immutable progress-- Using ability points and skill points, in my opinion, tends to be bad affordance. Although I'm a fan of D&D games, the rules converge on an emergent set of ultimate builds with some wiggle room in regards to specialization. Design and procedural design should balance to the more powerful player, so the game becomes more about building and less about playing. A variety of builds as a form of implicit difficulty setting is just as much a nuisance. I similarly dislike classist approaches-- everything the player finds in a game should be useful. Otherwise the RNG has to be tweaked to satisfy class-requirements for progress and the whole game feels less consistent and contrived.

Anyhow- I'm just curious to hear what kind of mechanics you all have found to be particularly inspiring in regards to how they could be used for the genre.

kraflab

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2012, 05:22:59 AM »
I similarly dislike classist approaches-- everything the player finds in a game should be useful. Otherwise the RNG has to be tweaked to satisfy class-requirements for progress and the whole game feels less consistent and contrived.

For my part, i like having classes (it makes sense to me that someone may be a skilled archer or swordsman), and I alleviated this problem by removing the contrived nature of equipment "drops" or "spawns" altogether.  To this end all the enemies in my game are fully equipped in the same way that the player is.  Kill the enemy wielding a bow and you get his bow (in most cases), along with his armor, etc.  There is no shop (another thing which i find too contrived) so the things your class doesn't use can be ignored.  In addition, off-class items (like a bow for a melee character) can still be useful because of special effects and also in the case where the enemy is unskilled in defense against bows but skilled to block your melee attacks.

In this way the player is not at the whim of the rng at all (in terms of loot at least) because equipment is for the most part easy to obtain.  There are "better" versions of all the equipment to keep things "interesting" so to say, but you will never be in a situation where you've gotten ten sword drops in a row and really need a ranged weapon.  I think it also fixed the questions of why there is nice loot lying around unguarded or why a rat drops a sword when it dies etc.


Darren Grey

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2012, 12:40:01 PM »
We did an episode about combat mechanics on Roguelike Radio recently:

http://roguelikeradio.blogspot.com/2012/04/episode-32-combat-mechanics.html

In general I think that choices and advances must be meaningful.  Not just +10% to whatever stat - they need to provide tangible options or change the way you make decisions.  And of course some semblance of balance can help, but if you split things by classes that may not be too necessary.

Sirdec

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2012, 11:33:55 AM »
Most character advancement systems are really stupid, take Fallout 1/2 per exemple... Great games, yet you are going nowhere without a smart character.

A stupid brute getting destroyed in melee by a weak smartass the same level ?
Or being at level 15 a great doctor/scientist without ever using/seing the skill in use.


I don't like it when a game tells me that i will never be able to cast a spell because i'm a warrior, or doesn't let me use that maul to crush that rat cause i'm a mage, thus too weak to use it correctly... Bla bla bla. Yet i'm strong enought to put that maul in my backpack. Mhhh logic.

No what i'd like to see in a roguelike when it comes to character advancement is :
* Starting stats that matter : not ending the game with everything maxed. A weak guy *will* probably develop some muscles (even if only from carrying/lifting what he finds in the dungeon), he won't end up arm-wrestling with Hulk.
* No restritive classes... Using a background at start of a game would be good enought to determine what your character is allready good with, adventurers have a life too before going into the dungeon right ?
* Skills and abilities, loads of them, organized into Skill-Trees
* The costs of upgrading skills, abilities should be based on starting stats and background (if present in game), the basics of skills would need to be learned by use. Exemple : after bashing enought rats, our character learns the basics of using melee weapons. Other exemple : our adventurer is under attack from Orcs armed with crossbows, eventually he will learn from it how to use one.
* Experience system based on learning new things : monsters will not give xp forever.
* Experience should only be able to be spend as certain momments : before sleep or when getting down a level per exemple, hoarding xp in Sil pe in case there is a forge is not such a good mechanich imo. Great game otherwise.

Now if only i could code better.

Z

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2012, 08:32:59 PM »
I am bored of character advancement systems where you occasionally gain a new character level, or improve your skill, which makes you 10% more powerful, and thus able to fight monsters which are also 10% more powerful. The game effectively remains the same, only the numbers are bigger. This is rather meaningless.

My HyperRogue's Hell has a much more meaningful character advancement system. There are two monster types, Lesser Demons and Greater Demons. You can kill Lesser Demons, but Greater Demons are too powerful, you have to run from them. However, each 10 lesser demons you kill, you become more experienced in demon fighting, which effectively turns all Greater Demons in sight into Lesser Demons (greater/lesser is here interpreted as a comparison to the player character, not as a inherent property of the demon). Obviously, you can meet even greater demons later...

requerent

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2012, 02:41:26 AM »
I may have miscommunicated the intent- as opposed to implementation I'm hoping to see some ideas emerge.

There are plenty of fantastic mechanics that have poor implementations. At this point, I feel like qualms with generic advancement systems are already pervasive. To the point in which a discussion about bad systems isn't particularly productive. What is needed are discussions about ideas whose implementations are inherently good or ideas that can be implemented to satisfy desirable gameplay.

Quote from: sirdec
Most character advancement systems are really stupid, take Fallout 1/2 per exemple... Great games, yet you are going nowhere without a smart character.


The mechanics of Fallout 1/2 aren't inherently bad, but the implementation is arbitrary. Making the outcome an obnoxious balancing act that is equally arbitrary.

Quote from: kraflab
For my part, i like having classes (it makes sense to me that someone may be a skilled archer or swordsman), and I alleviated this problem by removing the contrived nature of equipment "drops" or "spawns" altogether.  To this end all the enemies in my game are fully equipped in the same way that the player is.

I think only D&D did this in a potentially interesting way. Multi-classing and dual-classing provide enough depth to allow characters to pursue a variety of advancement paths, but I feel like even those are too restrictive. An individual may have had initial training in a particular dojo, but their life experiences and exposure to principles to other individuals grants them the opportunity to learn new things. Ability points and classes only inhibit the feeling of wonder when you discover that special item that you can't "Equip" because you don't have the proficiency. You aren't good at suturing because you have a high dexterity score, but rather you are dextrous because you have experience suturing. Ultima Online had an interesting skill/ability point relationship- you have 3 stats that cap at 100 and can attain a maximum of 250 stat points. Similarly, there are a number of skills that cap at 100 and you have a max of 700 skill points. You don't put points into anything, you just get them as you go along or whenever you have a chance to train them.

Quote from: Z
I am bored of character advancement systems where you occasionally gain a new character level, or improve your skill, which makes you 10% more powerful, and thus able to fight monsters which are also 10% more powerful. The game effectively remains the same, only the numbers are bigger. This is rather meaningless.

I disagree to an extent. What tends to matter is the number of strikes it takes to defeat an opponent. If you deal 99 damage against a 100 HP opponent, a 1% bonus is equally as good as a 110% bonus. While it is stupid to put the burden of translating the actual effect onto the player, I don't think it's fair to say that ONLY the numbers are bigger- they MAY be bigger, but subtle differences may exist- It just depends upon the implementation. There are a few strategy games that give bonuses via percents- an unintended side-effect is that proportionate ramping may not always result in proportionate balance, particularly when there are damage and class types and base point modifications.

naughty

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 04:04:16 PM »
I've been wrestling with an idea for a while about a different form of levelling. Instead of bumping
stats or choosing abilities when you level up you get to change a 'law' of the game's mechanics.

For example you could choose to make wood tougher than steel. So wooden weapons like arrows and clubs are
more effective against materials with a lower toughness value. Wooden armour would also be better at
mitgating damage. This applies to all wood though including the arrows and clubs used by monsters, also if there
was an enemy like an Ent (i.e. made of wood) it would deal more melee damage and be more resistant to damage itself.

The core concept is to change levelling from improving just your character to a global trade-off. So a law can't just
apply to player.

I've been having issues trying to sketch out the system though. On the one hand it's difficult to come
up with interesting laws to change but it's also a pig to try and balance. Let's say the @ is made of
meat, the optimal tactic is to make meat tougher than any other material and hit monsters with weapons
made of meat. So changing toughness needs some kind of trade off.

Other laws I've been looking at are changing the flammability of materials, whether a material is poisonous,
the melting and freezing points of materials, conductivity (for lightning) and quite a few others.

The idea has been driving me to distraction to be honest. I think it's a fun and workable but I haven't
been able to balance it yet.

Darren Grey

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 06:23:48 PM »
That is indeed a very cool idea. I think you're too focused on the material interactions though. Consider more abstract changes like actors becoming paralysed when their HP is divisible by 5, or all fire effects burning the squares around their source and impact. Every now and then have rule changes that are independent of player choice (check out the roguelike TrueGod) to keep people on their toes. And maybe rule changes only last 400 turns or so, giving a natural push ahead independent of a forced food clock.

naughty

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Re: Interesting advancement paths/combat mechanics
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2012, 07:55:32 AM »
You're right about the focus on materials, I've been staring at a table of materials and properties for a while and getting nowhere :^)

I think TrueGod was an unconscious inspiration for the idea, I played it a while ago during a lunch break. I'll have another go and see
if there's anything else I can get from it.

Thanks for the reply, it's got me out of a rut.