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templewulf

card-based wizardry and resource management

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Currently, I'm implementing the battle scripts (in Lua) for my RPG-ish, card-centric, wizardy battling-type module. In summary, it's like Magic: the Gathering, but I hope to simplify a bit of it and extend some of the concepts introduced in other places like weather and terrain. the problem: What I never did decide on was what resources should be used to cast spells. Originally, I thought of having each spell consume the energy from a reagent in your inventory, and that reagent would have a cool down time until it was usable again. This way you have to manage reagents between different spells with overlapping requirements. current solution: Reagents are antithetical to my goal of simplification, so I went with a system based on skill level. For example, let's say you have a fire skill of 10. Every time you get a turn, your pool of fire mana increases by 10 points. You also get a point to invest in any element skill (earth, fire, air, water) every time you level up, so it's easy to diversify mid-way through the game. new problem: I think I have a pacing problem now. In M:tG, your total mana pool could only be increased by playing a new land card once per turn. So, no matter how many land cards you had in your opening hand, you could (almost) never play your colossal monsters or "I win" spells in the first few turns. This allows players with lesser cards/spells but superior strategy a chance to overwhelm their more affluent opponents. suggestions? I thought that a recurring "sink" of some kind would be useful, especially if it scaled with your elemental levels. In the original Star Wars CCG, you had to draw from your Force pile (analagous to a mana pool). That kept your Force pile small in the early stages of the game, while you were still trying to draw something worth playing. I don't want random draws; I'm allowing a player to pick any spell from his inventory to play at any time in order to lessen random losses and increase strateegery. So, this method won't work. What do you think? Do you have a suggestion for a mana sink? Do you have a better spell-resource system? How should I govern which spells can be played when?

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What you are after is a negative feedback loop. Something that means the more manna a player has, the more difficult it is to increase it (or at least retain it).

My solution would be to make the Manna unstable. Having too much manna would cause it to create spontaneous adverse effects. The player could use their turns to control this instability, but of course that would use up their turns.

This now becomes a choice for the player: DO they build up manna to spawn the more powerful creatures and risk the instability (or spend turns managing it), or stay with the more stable, but lower manna and only deal with the weaker creatures.

I think it is important for the player to be able to control the instability at a cost, rather than just have the instability randomly based. The eventually "detonation" of the manna might still occur randomly (if the player is not spending time to manage it), but they must spend resource and/or turns in preventing it. To leave it as just random without any ability for the player to prevent it, removes it from being a gameplay choice and makes it a gambling choice.

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You may (or may not) want to have a look at the Yugioh ruleset, since it's gameplay is similar to MtG but without anykind of resources like mana (unless you want resources).

Incase you do want the use of resources, you could try using "upkeep". A person could summon an uber strong monster, but would have to continuously pay energy to keep it in play, whereas another player could summon alot of weaker creatures to defeat his opponent. In some of the games of MtG i've beaten people who have huge monsters with an army of 1/1 Rat Tokens by spamming Lab Rats during my turn, normally i could have a virtually unlimited number, but that could be kept in check if i had to pay energy for each one.

Or perhalps have the players energy recharge at a set rate, for example to cast a good disintegration spell i would have to charge up a mana battery for several turns, this naturally kept me from casting it consecutively. Or if i had Winter Orb in play (untap only 1 land per turn), even if i had scads of mana i'd have to be careful with how i spent it.

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Original post by Edtharan
What you are after is a negative feedback loop. Something that means the more manna a player has, the more difficult it is to increase it (or at least retain it).

My solution would be to make the Manna unstable. Having too much manna would cause it to create spontaneous adverse effects. The player could use their turns to control this instability, but of course that would use up their turns.

This now becomes a choice for the player: DO they build up manna to spawn the more powerful creatures and risk the instability (or spend turns managing it), or stay with the more stable, but lower manna and only deal with the weaker creatures.

I think it is important for the player to be able to control the instability at a cost, rather than just have the instability randomly based. The eventually "detonation" of the manna might still occur randomly (if the player is not spending time to manage it), but they must spend resource and/or turns in preventing it. To leave it as just random without any ability for the player to prevent it, removes it from being a gameplay choice and makes it a gambling choice.



I think most everything I would say has already been said in that post.

Making it so excess mana increases the chance that you'll have an unfriendly monster of DEATH summoned into the fight does make the game way more interesting.

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Here's an interesting concept...

Have a shared resource pool with the game going in rounds. Once in each round the every player gets to go once. Each player may draw as much from the resource pool as they want, leaving the next player whatever is left to draw from.

The next round, the player who drew the LEAST from the resource pool gets to go first.

So you have the following options....you can take just a bit out of the pool, and leave the player something to work with, OR you can try to take it all, and leave him with a full mana pool to work from on the next round.

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Original post by Gyrthok
Or perhalps have the players energy recharge at a set rate, for example to cast a good disintegration spell i would have to charge up a mana battery for several turns, this naturally kept me from casting it consecutively. Or if i had Winter Orb in play (untap only 1 land per turn), even if i had scads of mana i'd have to be careful with how i spent it.

That's the method I'm using now. The trouble is that because a wizard can level up his mana pool, a high-level wizard can cast a 12-mana darksteel colossus in the first turn. A lower-level wizard might save up a few turns to summon one, but he'd already be dead by then.

This is why I asked about alternative spell resource systems. If it isn't based on an increase-able skill level, it can't throw the game pacing out of whack. If that's the case, though, how do I determine how much of each type of mana a wizard gets per turn?

@Edtharan:
That's a good idea, but what kinds of random effects would you suggest? Casting a random spell in his inventory at a random target? Random status effects?

I had set a hard limit on the amount of mana one can have. It's elemental skill (i.e. fire) * 4. Your idea is more flexible, but it still doesn't solve the problem of mega-spells on the first turn. This system might be better, but how would you suggest they generate mana?

also:
I have the turn order set up something like Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics. Each wizard and monster has a speed attribute and a stamina bar. Each clock tick adds to stamina like so: combatant.stamina += combatant.speed. Taking a variation on Edtharan's idea, I could scale down a wizard's speed based on the "weight" of his mana pool.

Still, I want to find a solution to first turn mega-spells.

Thanks for everything so far. (++Ratings!)

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That's a good idea, but what kinds of random effects would you suggest? Casting a random spell in his inventory at a random target? Random status effects?

Status effects are good, also taking damage from manna (MTG had this in that any manna that you untapped but didn't use by the end of your round did damage to that player). Another result is that you loose some of your manna or manna generators. So in a game like MTG, they might loose some of their lands (and the more lands they have out the more lands that they might loose). Also damage to their creatures can also be done, not just to the player.

Quote:
I had set a hard limit on the amount of mana one can have. It's elemental skill (i.e. fire) * 4. Your idea is more flexible, but it still doesn't solve the problem of mega-spells on the first turn. This system might be better, but how would you suggest they generate mana?

You could still use that "hard" limit, but have it the lower limit of the manna instability (that is if the player exceeds this number they run the risk of their manna becoming unstable).

To solve the problem of mega-spells on the first turn, I would use the Manna Battery idea. have them start off with 0 manna (but they have access to manna generators), and these manna generators slowly build up the player's manna.

You might even use the generators themselves in determining the amount of manna a player can store before it becomes unstable. You would need to have a negative feedback loop here as well. This means that the more Manna generators the player has the easier it becomes to reach unstable manna (you could add the number of generators to the amount of manna the player has to determine the "power" level for instability).

For example: If I had an instability level (the amount of "power" I could contain before becoming unstable) of 10 and I had 3 generators, this means that I could have a maximum of 7 manna points before I run the risk of becoming unstable.

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Having players with more mana to start a game is creating serious balance issues right off the bat. Call it skill, cards, mana or whatever.

Can't you find another way to reward leveled up players? Grant them more powerful spells/creatures or increase the level of creatures in their cards maybe? Then you can increase the mana cost for these creatures. Or something else...

Otherwise you are going to be finding yourself finding ways to limit the supposed advantage of leveling up players. And players hate that.

I'd have to know more about your game to give more helpful advice. How much mana do cheap summons cost? Expensive? And just general gameplay. I'm a little unclear right now what kind of game it is.

It sounds a little like mine that is a combination fanatasy tactics/ccg. I also use initiatve for the different units/cards.

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I'd have to know more about your game to give more helpful advice. How much mana do cheap summons cost? Expensive? And just general gameplay. I'm a little unclear right now what kind of game it is.
I'll start with the last part first. My goal is to create a strategy-focused RPG with as few complications as possible. For instance, there is no grid as in Tactical RPGs. There are just two abstract sides as in M:tG. Each unit has separate stamina bars which allow them to take their turn when stamina >= 100%. Non-wizard units can intercept physical attacks but not spells.

What I had hoped to do with allowing them to increase their elemental skills with levels was to facilitate element cross-over and customization in the middle of the game so that you're not stuck with "earth wizard" for the whole game, and a couple of hours later you realize you should have picked "fire wizard".

If they can't increase with levels, then I'm not sure how they should gain access to different elements.

Quote:
Original post by Pluvious
Having players with more mana to start a game is creating serious balance issues right off the bat. Call it skill, cards, mana or whatever.
You nailed my problem exactly.

Quote:
Can't you find another way to reward leveled up players? Grant them more powerful spells/creatures or increase the level of creatures in their cards maybe? Then you can increase the mana cost for these creatures. Or something else...
That's why I'm asking you guys. I decided against creatures that level. I'm trying to simplify as much as I can. I love tactical RPGs, but sometimes I just don't want to keep track of so many variables.

Obtaining spells is done through quests and battle. In order to get a minion to summon, you must subdue it in battle or win them through quests. For example, my demo quest involves gaining knight summons for killing the first boss. Otherwise, you could recruit through battle like Persona or SMT.

Quote:

Otherwise you are going to be finding yourself finding ways to limit the supposed advantage of leveling up players. And players hate that.
I suppose that's true. Maybe I should go level-less altogether?

EDIT:
I have to go do some grocery shopping, I'll reply to others in a little while.

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Original post by templewulf
What I had hoped to do with allowing them to increase their elemental skills with levels was to facilitate element cross-over and customization in the middle of the game so that you're not stuck with "earth wizard" for the whole game, and a couple of hours later you realize you should have picked "fire wizard".
[...]
Obtaining spells is done through quests and battle. In order to get a minion to summon, you must subdue it in battle or win them through quests. For example, my demo quest involves gaining knight summons for killing the first boss. Otherwise, you could recruit through battle like Persona or SMT.


It seems that you want every player to have equal resources and raw power, with in-game experience and training adding more options but not strictly better ones. This is necessary for balancing a sequence of duels, and it is the way of M:tG (available resources are ultimately the 40 or 60 cards in the deck, "training" means swapping in new cards into the deck).
In a "RPG-ish" game there can also be strong environmental influences (e.g. a necromancer can have a little more mana, or more corpses, in a graveyard than in the street).

Even if you want to reduce the inherent randomness of random card drawing, you can still have the players spend actions or whole turns obtaining (until the end of the duel) mana sources (starting from very little or no mana). This way you would have progressive growth, like with the land mechanism in M:tG, and the important strategic choice between playing something now or obtaining the mana to play something expensive later.

Are you sure you want to allow players to select any known spell at every action? Even if most of them are inapplicable or too expensive, the player will still have to consider too many alternatives and/or to stick to the same old combos.

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