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Designing a good and fun skill/ability system

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Hi!


I have problems coming up with an original and fun skill-system for my game.

I first intended to copy Final Fantasy 7 just in order to go on with the development, having plans on changing it later on.
But now I realize that most of the future concepts of the game rely on this system. So I need to solve this first.

I have two inspiration sources for the game at the moment, one is the previously mentioned Final Fantasy-series and the second is Pokémon. I love the materia-system of Final Fantasy 7 which enables god-like characters where the player can combine different abilities to suite their game-style. I love the variety of the Pokémon-world where different creature have their own abilities and stats. Here is a solution I’ve started sketching on but with which I need your help evolving. I call it …

THE LEARNING STONES

So the system I had in mind borrows concepts from both of the mentioned games. You have materia-like components which I call stones, but instead of having abilities they contain nothing, they are just ordinary stones with a nice round shape. Okay, they aren’t completely ordinary, they actually have the ability to learn abilities.

All creatures in the game have their own special abilities like pokémon. But if all creatures were fixed, the game wouldn’t be so fun, would it? So my thought was that a creature can equip a learning stone in some kind of a slot. And when a creature uses their ability in a battle, the stones starts learning the ability. This works as experience points and player-levels, meaning that a bar will fill up and when the meter is full, the stone will have learned the ability.

When a stone has learned an ability, the stone will always have it. The stone can then be equipped on any creature, which will give access to it.

RESULT:

  • All creatures will have different abilities to start with which will lead to more diverse enemies and allies.
  • Creatures can learn new abitilies which will add customization to the game, more fun
    QUESTIONS:

    • Is it really exciting to find an empty stone, giving it an ability you already have? Isn’t it more fun to find an ability with a new skill ready to use?
    • What is the point of giving an ability to a creature who will perform worse with it than its original owner? For example: A “Fire Demon” adds the ability “Fire Storm” to a neutral stone. The stone is given to an “Ice Demon” who will cast the ability “Fire Storm” with worse result than the “Fire Demon”. This system is flawed as fu&% as you can see, so I need help to either complete or if you have any other ideas, completely new or maybe insane it doesn’t matter, because I’m stuck!

      Thanks for the help!

      Here is a link to a video showing of the game I am working on:

      VIDEO: [media]
      [/media]

      TWITTER: twitter.com/skullboxlabs

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Hi!


I have problems coming up with an original and fun skill-system for my game.

I first intended to copy Final Fantasy 7 just in order to go on with the development, having plans on changing it later on.
But now I realize that most of the future concepts of the game rely on this system. So I need to solve this first.

I have two inspiration sources for the game at the moment, one is the previously mentioned Final Fantasy-series and the second is Pokémon. I love the materia-system of Final Fantasy 7 which enables god-like characters where the player can combine different abilities to suite their game-style. I love the variety of the Pokémon-world where different creature have their own abilities and stats. Here is a solution I’ve started sketching on but with which I need your help evolving. I call it …

THE LEARNING STONES

So the system I had in mind borrows concepts from both of the mentioned games. You have materia-like components which I call stones, but instead of having abilities they contain nothing, they are just ordinary stones with a nice round shape. Okay, they aren’t completely ordinary, they actually have the ability to learn abilities.

All creatures in the game have their own special abilities like pokémon. But if all creatures were fixed, the game wouldn’t be so fun, would it? So my thought was that a creature can equip a learning stone in some kind of a slot. And when a creature uses their ability in a battle, the stones starts learning the ability. This works as experience points and player-levels, meaning that a bar will fill up and when the meter is full, the stone will have learned the ability.

When a stone has learned an ability, the stone will always have it. The stone can then be equipped on any creature, which will give access to it.

RESULT:

  • All creatures will have different abilities to start with which will lead to more diverse enemies and allies.
  • Creatures can learn new abitilies which will add customization to the game, more fun
    QUESTIONS:

    • Is it really exciting to find an empty stone, giving it an ability you already have? Isn’t it more fun to find an ability with a new skill ready to use?
    • What is the point of giving an ability to a creature who will perform worse with it than its original owner? For example: A “Fire Demon” adds the ability “Fire Storm” to a neutral stone. The stone is given to an “Ice Demon” who will cast the ability “Fire Storm” with worse result than the “Fire Demon”. This system is flawed as fu&% as you can see, so I need help to either complete or if you have any other ideas, completely new or maybe insane it doesn’t matter, because I’m stuck!

      Thanks for the help!

      Here is a link to a video showing of the game I am working on:

      VIDEO: [media]
      [/media]

      TWITTER: twitter.com/skullboxlabs


Going out on a limb here:

Start the creatures with very rudimentary combat capabilities.

Find these "stones", but treat them more like Materia than "learning" stones.

Once creatures level up they gain the capabilities of utilizing these stones.

The stones are what give the powers to the creatures rather than the creatures having the abilities to begin with.

Some stones are better suited for certain creatures, if you use a Fire based attack stone with an ice creature it would be possible to implement damage dealt to both the target and the ice creature for using it. Thus an ice creature vs ice creature battle could be settled via the additional damage done using fire based attacks because the ice creature would be less damaged by the opponents ice based attacks. It allows breaking the rock paper scissors a bit.

The stones could be capable of leveling up in their own ways.

Once the creature is powerful enough it could gain creature specific abilities by combining various stones to the one creature. A winged creature could potentially do a fire attack, combined with the beating of it's wings, to attack with a fiery vortex.

I suppose it all depends on how many stones you would like each creature to be capable of wielding and if you want the stones to be able to combine strengths or not.

Just a blabbered list of things you could look in to. I hope it helps.

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If you want to combine pokemon and materia, maybe a better way to do it might be if each materia was a creature like a pokemon. Maybe not physical animals, since you'd want to equip them, but for a demon or other spirit it makes sense. A character could invite various demons to passively posses him, that would be equivalent to equipping them.

A different idea, the pokemon part could be creatures who like to wear gems, I've seen a concept somewhere about dragons embedding pearls and gems into their skin. The creature could have a natural elemental affinity, like fire, and a natural attack, like fireball. The materia could add a transmute option, so the creature would then be able to use their own fireball or convert it to an equally powerful waterball if the opponent was more vulnerable to water. Then as the materia leveled up it could grow the option to convert to other elements, until a mature materia let the creature choose to use any element with equal power. You can have blank materia that get taught an ability, just don't make them the only kind because their uses seem kind of limited. Although I can see imprinting one with a healing spell, then giving it to a creature that can't naturally heal, or imprinting one with a drainlife for the same purpose.

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Honestly, what you've created sounds like the TM/HM system from Pokemon with some grinding thrown into the mix.

Pokemon with the ability to learn moves outside their skillset.

Yes, the abilities can be swapped out and are tied to the stone, but the core idea of cross-monster skills is there. This by itself may not be the most compelling system, I think. Needs something more to spice it up. Plus, the mandatory grinding aspect resonates dully with me. I know grinding has been an RPG staple for a while, and I actually think it can have its place, but it's a dangerous game design element that can force the player to keep playing parts of the game over, and over, and over, and over well past the point of enjoying them.

I think sunandshadow hit on some pretty cool ideas.

You could have a monster be basically composed of two elements, the base and the stone. The base is the creature itself, and the stone could be more like its power source or soul or whatever, it needs one to operate. How it behaves could vary depending on what stone you combine with the base.

Where the division exists is totally up to you, but it could be stuff like this.

Base determines type affiliation and stat growth. Stone determines moveset.
Base determines base moveset and stat growth. Stone determines type affiliation and an extra move.
Etc. etc.

You could mix and match, too. Maybe some stones don't add any new abilities, but make a type stronger or make stats grow in a different way. Maybe stats are tied to the stone and their growth is determined by the base. Stick a stone into a really powerful base to level up its strength, then switch it into a magic heavy base and suddenly you have a battle-mage creature you've created.

You could even have bases with multiple slots for stones. The player could come up with some potentially crazy combinations then.

The "level up this stone for a long time to imprint abilities on it" seems a bit meh to me personally. I'm just worried you'll spend a lot of time grinding with little actual gain.

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Base determines base moveset and stat growth. Stone determines type affiliation and an extra move.
Etc. etc.


Ah I didn't think of that possibility but that's cool, it makes me think of eevees in pokemon, the way they can become any element always made them one of my favorites - I remember thinking all pokemon should be like that.

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If you want a grindy experience, you can have stones progress in power by taking a bit of the creature's innate abilities and shuffling the rest. What this means is as the stone grows in power, its attributes move around based on which creature is using it. For example, you have 5 elements. Creatures have an innate element. You equip a stone on a creature and when it gains enough xp, it grows in power. The creature's element gets +1. 2 of the other 4 elements get +1 and the other 2 get -1, chosen randomly. This nets you a +1 in global stats, but could reduce the one stat you wanted to use.

The way you could use this is by having a generic skill type, like Magic Ball. Depending on the stone's elemental affinity, different types of balls become available. If Fire is high enough, you gain access to Fireball. As the Fire affinity goes up, the Fireball can get new features, like more damage, less mp, faster cast time, a burn component, etc. Different elements could have different properties.

This makes finding new stones interesting because they will start with a given elemental affinity and might give you access to some skills without grinding. For example, you have no Earth creature, but still want Earth Wall. You can hunt for a Wall type stone with high Earth affinity.

The same could also apply to stats. Some stones could be used for stat boost only. When you equip it on a creature, it steadily gains power in its primary stat, but the others get shuffled around. This makes it hard to create long term tank-mages because they may lose the stats after a while, but you can rely on them for short periods of time.

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Thank you for all the feedback! I find these solutions really interesting, so let's see if I understood them right.

Here is a picture describing one type of ability system. The creature in itself has stats modifiers and some basic abilities related to it's type.
When equipping an ability stone it adds some stats modifiers and extra abilities turning the creature into some special version of that creature.

AZi0IJ1CMAA3rU2.png

What happens when this "Toxic Skeleton" equips an "Ice"-orb together with the "Poison"-orb?

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Thank you for all the feedback! I find these solutions really interesting, so let's see if I understood them right.

Here is a picture describing one type of ability system. The creature in itself has stats modifiers and some basic abilities related to it's type.
When equipping an ability stone it adds some stats modifiers and extra abilities turning the creature into some special version of that creature.

AZi0IJ1CMAA3rU2.png

What happens when this "Toxic Skeleton" equips an "Ice"-orb together with the "Poison"-orb?


It is primarily the first stone, secondary the second stone. It could just have ice abilities without any physical changes, to keep them as a wild card perhaps, and or you could have poison/ice advanced attacks.

Potential to have stones advance to the point they take up two slots, or double stack the same element, to specialize the pet into one line. Lose out on diversity of attacks, but gain strength in your chosen attacks.

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I intended to have equipment for each creature as well. Either the equipment have slots for ability orbs or the equipment has skills that you learn when using them.
I figured that maybe instead of changing the color of the creature they can have an aura of a certain color representing the equipped ability.

But what happens in this scenario?

AZjEYlcCMAADUeP.png

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I intended to have equipment for each creature as well. Either the equipment have slots for ability orbs or the equipment has skills that you learn when using them.
I figured that maybe instead of changing the color of the creature they can have an aura of a certain color representing the equipped ability.

But what happens in this scenario?

AZjEYlcCMAADUeP.png


Well, that appears to be bringing it more in line with player skill determining the outcome rather than the pet/equipment, unless combat is all automated. They cancel each other out orb wise so they wouldn't be the best monsters to pit against each other. If you do have gear outside of orbs then that could also be a determining factor in the outcome. Could be a good fight :).

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