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EmrldDrgn

Breakable Weapons in TRPG - Strategic or Annoying?

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EmrldDrgn    198
In a tactical RPG, do you find breakable weapons make you think harder about your strategy, (and/)or do you find them annoying? By a tactical RPG I mean something similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Personally, I think that breakable weapons can be an asset, as long as they're implemented well (I like Fire Emblem's system: fixed health for weapon, fixed damage per attack, no repairs possible), and not badly (see Dark Cloud for an example of "annoying" :) ). I feel they prevent players from simply grabbing the "ultimate weapon" and going to town on anything in their way, thereby enhancing the tactical aspect of the game. However, I cannot deny that nothing's more annoying than having your character die because you forgot to check weapon health. Especially in games (like the aforementioned Dark Cloud) where you spend the whole game leveling and upgrading your WEAPON. I eventually stopped playing that game because my 7th Heaven sword would break and I'd have to hit "reset" WAY too many times. Weapons that can break should, with a few exceptions ("ultimate" or other special weapons, maybe), be easily replaceable by spending a little money at the local shops. What do you think? Are breakable weapons good or bad, and what would improve the concept (with specific reference to the Fire Emblem system, described above)? I'd like to hear reasons, not just a "Good" or "Bad", if it's not too much trouble. Thanks!

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NickHighIQ    100
It's good, but not the system you've described.

If I was playing a game where my weapon could 'die' then that would piss me right off. I like Diablo's system, where if you payed a heap of money, you could get it professionally repaired, but if you did it yourself, the total durability (health) of the weapon decreased. It's sort of like in real life how you can keep fixing something, but after a certain point it's beyond repair. I don't know much about 'Tactical' RPGs, though.

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Telastyn    3777
Bad. It's a time/thought/money sink with no discernible design benefit. The only thing it might do is provide a balancing effect towards skill/magic users since their stuff usually doesn't degrade. A stamina system is (imo) better if you want some sort of decrease in effectiveness or a mechanism to divert the 'one man army' min/maxing. More straightforward, more easily displayed to the user, less exploitable (weapon switching), less annoying in general.

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Davion    122
I'm just going to touch on swords and blades since I think that's what most comes to mind, at least for me. :)

I think it should only be used in rare instances and for logical reasons. I don't really care for the idea of a sword or knife being broken after a certain amount of time, though I think it can add some interesting elements to game play and depth if used correctly.

Obviously swords and knives lose their sharpness over time from use, and I think that should be more common than breaking. It should be relatively easy and inexpensive to fix...

You could implement this by having a sharpening stone like a whetstone as an item to buy, as long as a character has one it is assumed he sharpens his blade after each battle. After awhile the stone might get dull and then you'd have to buy another one. If you don't use a whetstone THEN your blade starts to get dull and will be easier to break.

If it was a cheaply made weapon then I'd be more lenient towards it breaking after awhile, even if it was sharpened, but there are plenty of instances where finely made weapons have stood the test of time. So if you had something decently made I wouldn't really expect it to break.

The only instances I'd really care for seeing my sword break is if I did something foolish, for example if I was fighting something made out of some kind of element that might weaken the blade; like stone, metal, ice, or lava/fire. I wouldn't really be surprised if I broke my sword hacking at it from all the stress, or it getting stuck and then breaking it as I pull it out.

I also wouldn't be surprised if my blade broke if I got into a fight with someone wielding a sword breaker in their off-hand. If a character has a sword breaker then there should be a small possibility on a parry that your sword breaks.

Mainly I dislike breaking weapons because it's just something else to micromanage and it just seems to be there as an annoyance in most games. Doesn't add too much other than having to run to a shop to spend money.

If you implemented it so terrain, strength, sharpness of blade, and physical elements play a part it'd be a lot more interesting. If you were backed up against rocky terrain and had a warrior of great strength barreling down on you with a sword, there'd be a good chance that during your dodging he might hit rocky terrain and possibly break his sword. Or get stuck in a tree if you're in a forest as another example. If the game takes into consideration that sort of thing you could tactically maneuver yourself into areas where terrain might damage their weapon to cover for your weakness in other areas.

It'd add a bit more tactical strategy to the game, though it probably wouldn't happen often. But I think it'd be satisfying as a player if you were about to die from some warriors blow but you managed to duck as his sword breaks on a rock and you kill him. It'd probably even be moderately bearable if you died and at least knew that terrain, strength, etc played a factor in why it broke, instead of just: "My sword is out of HP :("

Could also just have it break from the sheer amount of force behind the blow.

"I killed him so hard my sword broke :("

That's my rant on the subject.

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vrihai    172
While not really a tactical RPG, I liked Vagrant Story's system.

All weapons have various stats that can be leveled up(elemental affinity, effectiveness against beasts/demons/dragons,etc). They also have a life(?) stat that falls the more you use it. If this stat falls to 0, all of the weapon's stats will be halved. You can repair the weapon before it breaks but there still are penalties like reduced durability or strength.

Instead of using it again after repairing, you can combine the old weapon with another to come up with a new weapon.

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Kest    547
Quote:
Original post by EmrldDrgn
However, I cannot deny that nothing's more annoying than having your character die because you forgot to check weapon health.

You can't have it both ways. You either want to force players to think, or you don't want to punish them for being too careless. Make sure it's easy to keep track of and effortless to deal with as long as the player stays aware of it.

Personally, I don't enjoy the idea very much. Within the context of most games, it's the equivalent of getting a flat tire during a race. It doesn't do much to measure your driving ability, but it completely knocks you out of the competition. It doesn't balance out very well.

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Trapper Zoid    1370
It depends, really. Fire Emblem balanced the weapons by making the weaker ones more durable, so it was worth carrying around a bronze weapon as a backup in case your silver one ran out. It also meant your units had to balance which foes to use the more powerful but more expensive weapon against over the cheaper but weaker ones.

However the big downside to all of this was keeping track of inventory, which was a real pain in the Fire Emblem game I played (Path of Radiance). It was a real hassle swapping weapons between units and ensuring that everyone had at least one weapon with enough hits to get through a mission.

If I were designing a tactical game with breakable weapons, I'd make it a lot easier to ensure everyone's got a workable kit out before heading off to a mission. Either I'd have a helper function that would auto-equip everyone with a basic weapon, or better yet give everyone a default standard weapon that's unbreakable and only use the breakable ones as effective limited powerups.

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Chrono1081    108
I confess I didn't read the other posts yet but breakable weapons?

Bad idea. I've not bought games because I hate grinding levels only to find my weapon or armor broke and all my hard earned money goes to fixing it. This feels more like a chore then anything and I hate it.

Sorry, just my two cents. (And vent on breakable weapons!)

Edit:

I should have been more clear. Breakable weapons feel more like a punishment in my opinion. Its very frustrating to be in the heat of battle only to have your weapon break. It seems to break up the game play unnecessarily. If you wanted to implement breakable weapons I think there should be a way to "charm" the weapon during battle to heal it, or maybe cast some type of special damage to it (such as fire). I wouldn't recommend making the player spend exhorbant amounts of money and travel great distances just to repair a weapon.

Edit 2:

Oops you said "Tactical" RPG. In that case....ya I still don't like breakable weapons for the reasons mentioned above.

[Edited by - Chrono1081 on March 20, 2008 2:19:09 AM]

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If they wear out, then they should be expendable. I'd be all about a game where you can get a "Studded Leather Tunic" which, after getting a few dog bits and slashes and punctures, becomes a "Battered Studded Leather Tunic", and then a "Tattered Studded Leather Tunic" and finally a "Ruined Studded Leather Tunic" which cannot be worn. Then you go to the armorer and say, "I'd like a studded leather tunic made to fit me," and hand him some cash.

I do not want to see Glamdring with a nick in the blade.

If breaking is a tactical concern, then repair should be possible, and "broken" should be more of a status ailment than a removal of assets. A "broken" or "jammed" or "disabled" piece of equipment could be patched up on-site, taking some action points or a turn or whatever, or it could be fixed (automatically, ideally) between fights. Like in Front Mission, where you can shoot the other guy's legs until they're "damaged" and then he gets a movement penalty, or focus fire on his artillery module and take it out of commission without having to eat through his entire HP bar.

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Edtharan    607
What you could have is a two stage damage system.

The first stage would be normal wear and tear on the item (weapon, armor, etc). This kind of damage is easy to fix. Using the item noramlly would do dmage to this Normal Wear and Tear stat. It would then take but a few second for a player to repair this damage (maybe with a whetsote to sharpen a blade). The item might become less effective as you apply this damage, but it would never become usless.

However, if the player dosen't kepe their items maintained, or they suffer from extreme situations (like attacking an Earth Elemental with a sword, or a sword getting hit with s sword breaker), then the item could take Structural Damage. This damage dosen't effect the functioning of the item so much, but it could reduce the maximum Wear and Tear Damage stat of the item. The big thing is, if the structural damage is too great the weapon can fail and break.

Structural Damage would be expensive and difficult to repair, ehich might only be available through an NPC "Smith". If you do allow players to attempt structural repairs, you might put in a penalty for failure whereby the failure makes the current Structural Damage limit the maximum that the item can ever have.

So maintaining your equipment will keepo them in top working condition, but failure to do so (maybe because of a big battle) is not catastrophic.

However, go too long or subject the item to too much extreme stresses and it will break. However, repairing this in the field is risky (you could permenently lower the structural integrity of the item) and getting it repaired by an NPC is expensive. But failure of this will result in catestrophic failure of the item eventually.

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Zenroth    127
Seems simple to me, Ulitma Online had breakable weapons/armor and a simple system of it. Armor/Weapons have a durability stat, as they take damage/are used, it goes down. If it hits zero your weapon breaks, before it gets to zero you get notifications that your gear appears to be in bad condition. If you have the right skill you could look at your gear and be told a relative state of it in a role play type message. Repairs would restore a item to max durability minus one point. Failed repairs would hurt durability some.

This also has the benefit of removing magical items from the world/players hands over time. Seems like a simple thing that should exist in more games.

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JasRonq    156
Is breaking your weapon fun?

Does it provide a fun challenge? Is taking it to a smith to repair fun? Is repairing it yourself fun? Is bringing a backup and therefore more weight into battle fun?

My answer to most of these is no, its not fun, its an annoyance, not a big one, but its not fun either. If the repair minigame was really fun, maybe then, but probably not. This is most likely a case of game designers thinking in terms of realism and not fun, something we all do pretty often.

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Karnot    182
I dont understand how you people can say that.
You didnt like Fire Emblem ? The series is brilliant, every bit of it (well, except for PoR). Swordcraft Story ? Immensely fun. Vagrant Story ? What about whetstones and hammers in Betrayal in Krondor ? They didnt annoy me, in fact it felt strangely satisfying to see the sword sharpened and hearing that little sound played.

I also think that not many people actually know how often and how fast real swords get dulled, rusted, dented...just your ordinary steel, cant have damascus everywhere.

Now, in games that have breakable weapons it didnt really make me think harder about my strategy, its working more like a chance to get away from the main gameplay, a small distraction that makes me stop my thinking process and start it from scratch. Its a little bit different from thinking harder, its like getting an additional chance to get a fresh look.

What about JA2 ? Your guy gets surrounded, he shoots alot, and his weapon breaks. Now try telling me this is not a good thing. Its not. Its a great thing to have in a tactical game, now you have to do something different from your normal routine.

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Telastyn    3777
Quote:

its working more like a chance to get away from the main gameplay


This is annoying!

Quote:

What about whetstones and hammers in Betrayal in Krondor ?


Annoying!


There's no choice (let alone meaningful choice) when you're going to whetstone your weapon after each fight. It's just tedium.

Quote:

...real swords...


Fun > Realism

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Karnot    182
So ? I find constant action and sweaty mouse pads annoying, yet everybody keep churning out clickfest games. You have your games. In hundreds. I want my games too.

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kseh    3839
If you were playing a game set in the present or future, how would you feel about running out of ammo? Chances are you're fine with it so long as you know it's easy to pick up more. Can you get players to think of a sword the same way? "Damn, my sword borke. Guess I better pull out my club. I'll take this guy's sword as soon as I kill him and I'll be good." In the case of picking up a legendary sword it'd be like picking up a BFG. You don't shoot it at the mindless drones (at least not frequently), you save it for the big bad evil thing at the end that you know is going to be able to take a lot of damage. You'd have to make sure that the player knows to save the big swords for special occasions but between gameplay and storyline it shouldn't be tough to get the hint accross.

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Telastyn    3777
Quote:
Original post by Karnot
So ? I find constant action and sweaty mouse pads annoying, yet everybody keep churning out clickfest games. You have your games. In hundreds. I want my games too.


Umm, even in tactical RPGs (largely the antithesis of action games) breaking away from the core gameplay is annoying, distracting, and in almost every case a detriment to the experience. That was the entire basis for my comments.

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JasRonq    156
If I want to go back to town, I will. Making me go back to town to repair, or stop between battles to repair is breaking my flow. Its a symptom of the problem that the best suggestions on this are to make it fast and easy. You know what is fastest? Not doing it.

And Kseh, its not a gun, and hunting for ammo isn't fun either. But the functionality of a gun means that there is a lot of variation between guns, so when you run out of ammo on one gun, there is strategy there because you have to switch to a different gun which works differently. Swords are swords are swords. Saving the big one for the boss cus its big is not the same as saving the rocket launcher for the room full of 10 zombies to take advantage of the AoE.

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If your game is such that the only available gameplay is chopping, and your sense of progress involves getting better and better at chopping, and there's an element of gameplay that suddenly and bafflingly makes you worse at chopping, then that element is misplaced and should be removed.

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EmrldDrgn    198
Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
And Kseh, its not a gun, and hunting for ammo isn't fun either. But the functionality of a gun means that there is a lot of variation between guns, so when you run out of ammo on one gun, there is strategy there because you have to switch to a different gun which works differently. Swords are swords are swords. Saving the big one for the boss cus its big is not the same as saving the rocket launcher for the room full of 10 zombies to take advantage of the AoE.


First of all, a sword is not a sword is not a sword. There are many different kinds of swords - rapiers, dual swords, whatever - and they all (should) have different effects and therefore different tactics that go with them. For that matter, what if your secondary weapon is an axe or a spear? That (should) change the tactics completely. Second, if you don't HAVE to save the big one for the boss, it allows using the "rocket launcher" on every lame little zombie because you've got unlimited ammo. Imagine how lame and easy that would make a game like, for instance, Resident Evil 4. It defeats the purpose of including such a powerful weapon in a game. Most games with unbreakable weapons solve this problem by not letting you get the ultimate weapon until the final boss, which restricts choices and confines the player to a certain tactical situation (not the point of a tactical RPG). If you have a solution to these very real problems with unbreakable weapons, I'd be interested to hear it.

Quote:
If your game is such that the only available gameplay is chopping, and your sense of progress involves getting better and better at chopping, and there's an element of gameplay that suddenly and bafflingly makes you worse at chopping, then that element is misplaced and should be removed.


If your game is such that the only available gameplay is chopping, you have bigger problems than breakable weapons.

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Raghar    96
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
Quote:

...real swords...

Fun > Realism


I don't think an internal consistency of a game (also called realism) is unimportant.

If a sword doesn't behave as a real sword, it damages suspension of disbelief. It would be something like bugs bunny in the middle of horror movie.

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Gantz    143
I REALLY hated that feature in the game Koudelka really ruined the experience because it happened way too often. If it was paced out it wouldn't be so bad.

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Zenroth    127
I think it depends on the genre as well, for instance repairs in Ultima Online back in the day was part of a social experience as well. You would go into town need to find a player smith, these usually were at blacksmith shops, you would talk to them, get your stuff repaired, tip them maybe, or even ask them to make you some other stuff. It was not possible for NPC's to repair your weapon.

This added a lot to the game, and player interaction it was a good thing.

Now talking weapon repair/breaking in other genres is a tough though I can still see it as similar to the whole discussion of ammo. I remember playing Half Life when it came out and getting to points where I was completely out of ammo or down to like 4 rounds and needed to get through an unknown amount of territory before I might find more ammo. This upped the challenge, made it scarier, and more intense.

Of course this works because you are in control, I can't say the same about turn based RPG's I think it would be highly annoying in general. Hmm I need to fight the scorpion my weapon is broken I can't try an hide behind the pillar over here, or climb out through this air duct, I'm going to just die. This is of course one of the reasons most what I will refer to as classic RPG's are boring and restrictive. Things seem to have gotten better with the rise of action based type RPG's like Oblivion.

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intrest86    742
When done correctly, breakable weapons can be part of the gameplay and not a diversion from it. It isn't difficult to make them work well in a TRPG. The Fire Emblem games are the best example of this: whenever you choose a strategy you have to carefully consider not only the immediate effects but the enemies moves on the next turn. The entire point of the tactics is to balance the multiple concerns.

When you have a variety of weaponry you should already have to consider swapiing weapons at each point. Breakable weapons are just another variable in your weapon choice. For example, in Fire Emblem there are weapons that have greater effect against certain enemies, and using them on another kind of enemy will consume the weapon. In general, you swap out your weapons to get the exact damage you want with the last expense.

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Zarmaka    122
Fire Emblem's system worked pretty well. The reason it worked is because it was incredibly easy to replace your weapons. Because you could replace the weapons, it didn't feel like you had restart your whole game every time you lost a weapon.

The only thing I didn't like about FE's system is that weapons didn't just become less useful when they broke, they completely dissappeared; vanished into thin air.

Now, after reviewing the above posts and adding my own thoughts, I think there are two keyes to a good breakable weapon system:
1)breaking a weapon won't break the game (won't destroy the weapon, "default" weapons available that don't break)
2)you can repair weapons easily, quickly, and cheaply (you don't have to trek 50 miles to have them repaired)

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