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RPG: elemental vs magical/physical attribute system


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#1 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 11037

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 11:13 PM

Well, in theory I like elemental attributes in rpgs like "fire" spells vs. "water" creatures or elemental resistances on armor. But in praxis this never worked for me. I never choosed armor or weapons according to their elemental attributes in any RPG I played so far in the last 20 years. At a certain point it was just too much and I started to ignore the elemental attributes and kept to standard damage/armor values, even knowing that a certain "elemental" setup would be more effective in certain situations. I know that some games specialize on elemental effects, but most are not really "hardcore" rpgs. My goal is to simplify the elemental attribute system but save some of its benefits. In my opinion the most important benefit is that the player has to adjust his strategy and setup to overcome certain barriers. Simplifications means reduction and I want to reduce the system to only two (elemental) attributes, magical and physical. A simple start would be to say, that each magic spell does magical damage and each melee attack does physical damage. But I could think of more complexe alternatives like an ice ball, which will be casted, but does physical damage. Or a blessed melee strike which does magical damage. In a class based game each class would get enough abilities/spells/items to handle magical and phyiscal encounters, but certain classes would be more effective in either magical(i.e. wizards) or physical(i.e. warriors) situations. With this approach each player has to probe a new enemy and choose the right abilities to encounter him, it could be even so hard that it would be easier for the player to choose an alternative approach to reach his goal. I favour the magical/physical attribute system, but I got some doubts. Is it just me, who isn't able to handle elemetal attributes in rpgs ? If I choose to reduce the number of attributes, wouldn't it be better to get completly rid of them ? Are there other rpgs which handles this in a similar way ?

Ashaman

 

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#2 Pete Michaud   Members   -  Reputation: 137

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:50 AM

You asked a bunch of questions, but let me say first that I am the same as you in that I pretty much ignore elemental armor in most games.

The reason is that it doesn't generally matter. I might get 10% protection from ice with this armor, but I don't know when I'll be facing an ice enemy, and 10% isn't huge anyway so it's not worth the effort to think about. Even if the % were larger and maybe worth thinking about, when will I face that enemy? If it's a surprise, then what's the system for switching to different gear? If you go with something like Diablo, you'd have to realize you'd need that armor later, store it in your stash, then go to your stash to switch it out when the time came. Too much effort for too little benefit.

So, to make the system workable:

1) The benefit of elemental effects has to be large enough to be worthwhile
2) It has to be useful often enough to worry about
3) The system for switching should be easy

If all those are met, using the normal 4 or 5 magic types wouldn't be a problem. Your 2 types would be fine though -- just give the player the ability to set up a "physical set" and a "magical set" that they can switch between.

Your goal is to make your players think strategically about encounters, so just make sure they are able to deduce the right strategy and that when they do, they can use it with a minimum of fuss.

#3 Tiblanc   Members   -  Reputation: 560

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:25 AM

I'm also the type to completely ignore elemental gear because of micromanagement hell. I think it's a design issue. Most of the time, the only reason for these elemental resistances to exist is for a specific dungeon that gives you appropriate gear midway. Once you're out, there is no use for the gear anymore and you simply pick the next best thing. Elemental gear becomes obsolete while physical gear works 100% of the time. The feature with the most possibilities is the least used one.

Switching to a 2 damage type system will prevent elemental attacks from becoming obsolete because you're out of that specific dungeon. However, your items and skills will become generic. For an action-RPG, this would be fine because you don't have time to weight actions, but for a turn based RPG, this may be a hindrance because you lose a set of actions.

I'm in the process of designing a combat system for my turn based RPG and the solution I found for this problem was to make elemental resistances useful in the day to day life of the heroes.

Rather than being damage-centric, the combat is buff-centric. Instead of using the most efficient attack, you have to pile status effects to expose weaknesses. Everything is tied to an element in some way. Stats and classes have affinities to certain elements.

For example, an agility debuff works off lightning attack rating(agi = water). To remove the debuff, you need to win an opposed check with your lightning defense. Constitution is earth and is responsible for lightning defense. Against a target with high constitution and agility(in other words, a tank), you would first debuff constitution with a fire based debuff and follow with an agility debuff. At that point, the target is now a weak puppy you can proceed to beat down to a bloodly mess. Even though you are not in the Earth Cave or the Volcano, earth and fire defenses were actually useful because they protected your tank. By boosting both defenses, you'd have trouble sticking 1 debuff, let alone 2, long enough to hit them with normal attacks that wouldn't be immediatly healed afterwards. In such a world, it makes sense to use elemental gear based on what you are, rather than what you happen to be fighting.

#4 Trinavarta   Members   -  Reputation: 146

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:36 AM

I like your idea to make a more simple resistance system, its often really hard work to manage items for every possible elemental encounter.

You could also implement the simple system for the player, but still use an elemental-system for the monsters.

Lets say there are two magic elements: Water & Fire. - If the player finds an item with 30magic resistance, he will gain 30Water & 30 Fire resistance.
A "Fire Elemental" attacking the hero may still have 100 Fire resistance but 0 Water resistance - This way the Player can still use the system and has to cast the right spells, but does not have to handle millions of different items for his defence :)

A different way could be to let the player choose how to use his resistance.
50% Fire / 50% Water or 75%/25% or 100%/0% (...)
This way you dont have to handle that many different items with resistances, but there is still some more strategy to use.


Just some small ideas with some flaws to think about :)

#5 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 11037

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 06:21 PM

It is good to see others who thinks similar about elemental system in most RPGs :)


Quote:

Pete Michaud:

...
So, to make the system workable:

1) The benefit of elemental effects has to be large enough to be worthwhile
2) It has to be useful often enough to worry about
3) The system for switching should be easy

If all those are met, using the normal 4 or 5 magic types wouldn't be a problem. Your 2 types would be fine though -- just give the player the ability to set up a "physical set" and a "magical set" that they can switch between.

Your goal is to make your players think strategically about encounters, so just make sure they are able to deduce the right strategy and that when they do, they can use it with a minimum of fuss.

If a elemental system would be a core gameplay feature I would use more than 2 types. But I think I will stick to only 2.

Quote:

Tiblanc:

I'm in the process of designing a combat system for my turn based RPG and the solution I found for this problem was to make elemental resistances useful in the day to day life of the heroes.

Rather than being damage-centric, the combat is buff-centric. Instead of using the most efficient attack, you have to pile status effects to expose weaknesses. Everything is tied to an element in some way. Stats and classes have affinities to certain elements.

So, elements is one of your core features which sounds good. Does the player control a party or just one character ?

Quote:

Trinavarta:
I like your idea to make a more simple resistance system, its often really hard work to manage items for every possible elemental encounter.

You could also implement the simple system for the player, but still use an elemental-system for the monsters.

Lets say there are two magic elements: Water & Fire. - If the player finds an item with 30magic resistance, he will gain 30Water & 30 Fire resistance.
A "Fire Elemental" attacking the hero may still have 100 Fire resistance but 0 Water resistance - This way the Player can still use the system and has to cast the right spells, but does not have to handle millions of different items for his defence :)

A different way could be to let the player choose how to use his resistance.
50% Fire / 50% Water or 75%/25% or 100%/0% (...)
This way you dont have to handle that many different items with resistances, but there is still some more strategy to use.

Hmmm.. I don't think I will use two different systems for the player and mobs, this could get really messy :) But I think that just two resistances are enough
to handle different encounters. A fire elemetal has a very high physical resistance, an earth elemental a very high magical resistance and an ice elemental some physical and some magical.
Enough to give the player some thoughts about his strategy.

The game uses a similar skill system like guild wars, in which you have lot of skills, but could only use 8 for most of the time. But you have the ability to chance your skill "build" at certain locations. In my case it could be used to switch to a more suitable build to encounter the mobs in the game. The game is about knowledge and crafting, so just slashing through the mobs is ok, but it helps if you observe and learn about the mobs in the level, including his m/p weakness and m/p combat abilities.

I could think about something like bioshocks learning about mobs, where you collect photos of creatures to learn about their strength and weakness.


Ashaman

 

Gnoblins: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Youtube - Steam Greenlit - IndieDB - Gamedev Log


#6 Tiblanc   Members   -  Reputation: 560

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 12:31 AM

Quote:
Original post by Ashaman73
Quote:

Tiblanc:

I'm in the process of designing a combat system for my turn based RPG and the solution I found for this problem was to make elemental resistances useful in the day to day life of the heroes.

Rather than being damage-centric, the combat is buff-centric. Instead of using the most efficient attack, you have to pile status effects to expose weaknesses. Everything is tied to an element in some way. Stats and classes have affinities to certain elements.

So, elements is one of your core features which sounds good. Does the player control a party or just one character ?


A party of 6.

If your skills are like Guild Wars, you probably don't need the elementals. From what I remember, skills were hard counters to other skills and worked almost independently of their damage type. If you have a lot(30+?) of different skills, it would be a pain for players to gather the same skill they already have, but in the lightning variety. It would just multiply the number of skills needlessly.

#7 Roots   Members   -  Reputation: 1256

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 03:30 PM

Quote:
Original post by Ashaman73
Well, in theory I like elemental attributes in rpgs like "fire" spells vs. "water" creatures or elemental resistances on armor. But in praxis this
never worked for me. I never choosed armor or weapons according to their elemental attributes in any RPG I played so far in the last 20 years. At a certain point it was just too much and I started to ignore the elemental attributes and kept to standard damage/armor values, even knowing that a certain "elemental" setup would be more effective in certain situations.


I feel the same way. Elemental attributes were pretty much ignored and just noticed as minor perks or nuances. The way we've tried to address this problem in Hero of Allacrost is to have a range of intensities for elemental attributes. We have four positive and four negative values total, so you could have armor that has a lvl. 1 fire protection up to lvl. 4 fire protection. And maybe the armor also has a weakness to earth damage of lvl. 2. We haven't worked out the exact numbers yet, but lets say each level increases or reduces damage by 10 or 20%. So while the lower intensity elemental attributes aren't too important, the high intensity attributes can really make a huge difference. That's the theory and we'll just have to see how well it works in practice. We also apply intensities to status effects like "poison", so poison can be minor like it is in most RPGs and not worth the extra turn to heal, or it can be extreme and really eat away at a character's HP if they don't do anything about it.

Quote:
Original post by Ashaman73
A simple start would be to say, that each magic spell does magical damage and each melee attack does physical damage. But I could think of more complexe alternatives like an ice ball, which will be casted, but does physical damage. Or a blessed melee strike which does magical damage. In a class based game each class would get enough abilities/spells/items to handle magical and phyiscal encounters, but certain classes would be more effective in either magical(i.e. wizards) or physical(i.e. warriors) situations.


This is something that we already have working in Allacrost, but its not meant to be an answer to the useless elemental ailments question. In Allacrost character's have both a strength and a vigor rating. Strength determines how much physical damage the character deals while vigor determines how much metaphysical damage is dealt. Likewise, weapons and armor have both physical and metaphysical attack/defense ratings. When we calculate damage dealt in an attack, we add up the total physical and metaphysical damage dealt. So fighters have strong physical attack/defense but are weak against metaphysical attacks, while mages have strong metaphyiscal attributes but are weak against physical attacks. So there's a sort of balancing act the player has to do. They can't focus all their efforts and money trying to boost just physical or just metaphysical for a character, lest they leave themselves very vulnerable to the ignored side.


This idea is somewhat documented in our design doc on our wiki. Its really outdated and incomplete though, but here's the link in case you're interested in learning more.

Hero of Allacrost Design Document - Character and Object Properties


Hero of Allacrost --- http://www.allacrost.org
A free, open-source 2D RPG in development.

Latest release Oct. 10th, 2010.




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