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arthurviolence

Several gameplay and interface thoughts

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While brainstorming gameplay stuff for our game, I have been thinking about the following issue on the current most popular, to my belief, action rpg out there.

A serious issue I have seen when playing world of warcraft is that I am in a beautiful world, with amazing scenes and effects, I like to watch that world, but I have to focus on the spellbar. I have to focus on a series of little buttons on the bottom of the screen to see what I should be using next, and I miss the actual action.

Considering that the character has already an autoattack feature, you dont have much to be worried about. This is obviously not a good situation, since most players use addons to modify the interface and create new cooldown display features that allow the player to watch both the action and the cooldowns.

My first thought is that an adapted player will eventually get used to his set of hotkeys and wont need to actually have the icons there to see which key belongs to which spell, so the biggest reason for that information to exists is to display the current spell cooldowns. Which seems fair enough. When I used to play Tibia, we could configure keys F1-F12 to use spells, and later on to use items. Combinations of Shift+Function and Ctrl+Function keys were also possible, so you would memorize up to 36 hotkeys, it wouldnt be on the screen all the time, and you would see no complains about it. Another point towards not needing to display all hotkeys on the screen.

But what about cooldowns? This led me to something I have been thinking about for a while, and its an entire different point. This is not about world of warcraft, but a general thought about this concept. What is the point of cooldowns? Suppose there are no cooldowns. You have an amount of magical energy, or mana. And as you use magic, you consume some of that mana pool. Powerfull magic may take some time to cast and consume large amounts of mana, which you would be able to recover using some sort of mana potion and cast that powerfull magic again! That may be a little overpowered, right? So why not, instead of a cooldown, adding something a little more... Powerfull.

A cooldown would mean that this magic is so powerfull that I cant use it often, I have to recover from it. Im too tired to use it, but I can use all my other magic in a row after using it. [size=2]Erm... And I thought I was too exhausted huh?[/size]

What if using a powerfull magic actually got the character, in a certain way, exhausted? As in, increasing the casting time and reducing temporarily the total mana pool of the character, which could not be recovered by using an item, only resting?

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I've wondered about a system where you had a charging time, which modified the damage. So you could fire the spell repeatedly as fast as you could press the button, but it would be so weak it probably would be a waste of resources. If you charged the spell for longer, it increases the damage and mana consumed, significantly, so a well placed shot would be better than merely rapidly spamming. But it gets more complicated when aiming is involved, shoot your load and miss and you're out of mana while the enemy is fully loaded with health and mana.

But then if it's multiplayer pvp, you'll have multiple people hold their spells for the longest duration allowed and sync drop people.

You should offer a custom input manager to let the player map their own keys to actions. Edited by lmbarns

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[size=4]But also, if you have multiple people charging for a long time, they will be waiting undefended, with the possibility of suffering an attack while unprepared. Perhaps if casting already consumes mana, which makes sense it will create a situation in which the player has to choose. If you stay there casting, you may be attacked pretty hard, losing all the time and resources you used to start casting, and most likely taking a beating much harder than you would have if you played smart, charging for a bit, moving around and everything.[/size]

[left][size=4][i]"[/i][left][background=rgb(250, 251, 252)][font="helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif"][color="#282828"][i]shoot your load and miss and you're out of mana while the enemy is fully loaded with health and mana."[/i] [/color][/font][/background][/left][/size][/left]

[left][size=4][left][background=rgb(250, 251, 252)][font="helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif"][color="#282828"]I really believe that this is a special part of the bet. Even more if you think about magical defenses or the possibility to avoid a magic attack. 10 guys charging all of their power and some warrior jumps and suicided to take the whole damage, now you have a bunch of weak old men waiting to be slaughtered.[/color][/font][/background][/left][/size][/left]

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Well in the game I am currently developing, I am using more of a pure approach to this idea. Rather than using mana, and cooldowns, everything is tied to stamina... but not the same stamina as from traditional rpgs, stamina is pure energy. So magic, skills, fast movement will all take stamina, and stamina will recover based on a time factor. So if you are dashing and running fast, you cant cast that much magic, or use specific skills. This brings in a bit of a dynamic to the battle system, where mages (by tradition and pure restriction from the game mechanics) will not move too much, archers will just constantly run around shooting arrows, rogues will stay hidden and strike with alot of energy, etc.

If you abolish mana/mp, and go with your own style of energy, it will prove original and more immerseful as a game.

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[quote name='Arthur Souza' timestamp='1335814981' post='4936160']
What is the point of cooldowns?[/quote]
You miss two important motivation behind cooldowns: the first is to prevent a mage from spending all his mana at once, and the second is to slow scripts/bots down to human reaction times, thus reducing their advantages.

As I understand it, the entire reason they added the global cooldown in WoW, was to stop magic users will a full mana bar from being able to cast every spell they had simultaneously, via a script. I don't believe that WoW originally featured said global cooldown - it was added in response to hotkey'd scripts that just emptied one's entire mana in offensive spells.

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I'd say the issue here is the issue I find in so many RPGs (and all the unfortunate crossovers), they are still a number crunching game instead of actually experiencing the role of a fictional character we want to play at. Until both spell damage and melee damage are visibly shown on an enemy (animation, particles, texture decals, etc) the player will always have a sense that they aren't really doing anything. I think this applies to the topic of cooldowns as well, players memorize the cooldown time of spells as well making the use of a powerful skill or spell seem less connected to the actual character and just a 300 damage magic damage with armor penetration button instead of a ball of spinning fire that is the reason why my mage rolls up his sleeve before he fires it from his hand. If cool down did want to apply to a single spell perhaps it could be an animated moment to shake off the effects of the spell and by casting another spell or skill during this animation the new skill is less effective. If a skill needs a cooldown it should have a reason for a cool down other then balancing the games character types. The skills of the fictional rolls we are playing at should be seen, felt, experienced (isn't that why we made video games?) and not just be counted (isn't this why we made computers?). An RPG is suppose to be an adventure not budget report. I know many die hard RPG fans might be taring their hair out here but if you want to keep number crunching in this kind of game, bring the dice back, pull the cards out and grab a pencil. The vintage games had no other way to display the sort of data that a table top RPG explores on the table top, but now in the days of twitch shooters running at 180 frames per second and simulations that can render entire cities of interacting people I think we can finally do away with the old floating numbers and the green, red and blue bars. Our phones calculate as much data as the computers that got us to the moon we have no excuses! *rant done*

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooldown
[quote]This creates a new dimension to the balancing act of casting speed versus power: "lower cooldown, faster cast, but weaker strength" versus "higher cooldown, slower cast, but greater strength."[/quote]

Cooldown is basicly a way to introduce powerfull (unbalanced) spells without destroying the game balance.
Without coldowns (or other limiting mechanics) you have to design all spells as perfectly balanced (otherwise the players will use only the powerfull overpowered spells and never use the weaker standard ones). It let you, as the designer, to exit the tyrany of perfect balance (at least form time too time, too many powerful cooldown spells you can cast all the time and you end up with simply another level of balance).

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[quote name='Mratthew' timestamp='1335844856' post='4936307']
I'd say the issue here is the issue I find in so many RPGs (and all the unfortunate crossovers), they are still a number crunching game instead of actually experiencing the role of a fictional character we want to play at. Until both spell damage and melee damage are visibly shown on an enemy (animation, particles, texture decals, etc) the player will always have a sense that they aren't really doing anything. I think this applies to the topic of cooldowns as well, players memorize the cooldown time of spells as well making the use of a powerful skill or spell seem less connected to the actual character and just a 300 damage magic damage with armor penetration button instead of a ball of spinning fire that is the reason why my mage rolls up his sleeve before he fires it from his hand. If cool down did want to apply to a single spell perhaps it could be an animated moment to shake off the effects of the spell and by casting another spell or skill during this animation the new skill is less effective. If a skill needs a cooldown it should have a reason for a cool down other then balancing the games character types. The skills of the fictional rolls we are playing at should be seen, felt, experienced (isn't that why we made video games?) and not just be counted (isn't this why we made computers?). An RPG is suppose to be an adventure not budget report. I know many die hard RPG fans might be taring their hair out here but if you want to keep number crunching in this kind of game, bring the dice back, pull the cards out and grab a pencil. The vintage games had no other way to display the sort of data that a table top RPG explores on the table top, but now in the days of twitch shooters running at 180 frames per second and simulations that can render entire cities of interacting people I think we can finally do away with the old floating numbers and the green, red and blue bars. Our phones calculate as much data as the computers that got us to the moon we have no excuses! *rant done*
[/quote]

You are just hiding the numbers though, they are still there. I guess it helps some people suspect disbelief if you can't actually see them?

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