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Stumpmaestro

A Coffee and Tea mechanic

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Hi everybody. When I was considering fun 'quirk' mechanics for a game, I thought that this could be fun- but also potentially poor owing to the fact some might perceive it more as a punishment than as a boon.

 

But it works like this. I was thinking of adding an optional mechanic for brewing coffee or steeping tea in my game. You'd be able to buy normal brews from vendors, but also need to get 'EXTREME blends' from harder to knab merchants with appropriate dealings in the ''black' market' (to make a pun on coffee).

 

Each drink bestows a bonus to selected stats over the course of the day- so the point is that these indeed might become 'routine' for the player, much like drinking them in real life. This would go to the extent that the player 'forgets' the buff exists in the first place.

 

But- running out of 'brews' or 'leaves' would conversely mean that you would suffer from a bit of caffeine withdrawal. Those stats the were formerly buffed would suffer a 'debuff'- magnifying the effects of not getting your drink. Drinking a blend different from the one you currently had would prevent the debuff from occurring, but grant a different buff from the previous blend (predictably). I was thinking of adducing 'strength levels' for these beverages, or perhaps even 'decaffeinated variants'. 

 

The problem is that the punishment for 'not drinking' seems like it would cause players to not want to use the mechanic (it is optional, I mean not everybody drinks coffee or tea). Perhaps there are some modifications I could make to help it be more user friendly. Or is the punishment element not so offensive? Thanks for any feedback.

 

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You didn't say what kind of game is it so I assume some RPG.

Anyway I would NOT punish player for missed drink in a way that affects his performance. He already is punished for not having that buff. Or you may add a "cosmetic debuff' that is visible but doesn't have any negative effect.

 

You may also consider adding different drinks that provide the same effect. So player may choose green tea over espresso just because he like it more :)

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This is basically an addiction mechanic, which has been explored -- with varying degrees of success -- in games before (Fallout, which let you get addicted to chems; the Exile games which let you get addicted to skribbane, et cetera).

 

The primary trick is to make it a meaningful choice. If your coffees and teas are so plentiful that losing access to them (and thus suffering the negative effects) is basically never going to happen, it's not an interesting choice. Players will always do it because it's so easy to keep up with. Likewise if the negative effects are so trivial. If you can balance it such that it becomes an interesting choice that has significant impact on how a player makes other gameplay choices, that would make for a more interesting mechanic. This is likely going to involve making it harder to find a "hit" and/or making the negative effects strong enough to warrant serious consideration against the buff effects.

 

Unless you are *only* trying to add this as a role-play option, in which case you may be better off making the effects purely cosmetic.

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I think taking a mild debuff for not having your coffee is ok.  Say something like:

 

Tea: 10% action speed for the day.  If you're addicted (having had tea on the previous two days), then you get a -10% action speed debuff that day until you have some tea.

Coffee: 20% action speed for the day.  If you're addicted (having had coffee on the previous two days), then you get a -20% action speed debuff that day until you have some coffee.  If you have tea while coffee-addicted it spares you the penalty, but gives you no benefit either, and switches your addiction to tea. 

 

So it's not a big deal -- 2 days to get addicted but but just 1 to wean off of it, and it's possible to use tea to wean off of coffee.

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Yeah, thanks for the advice. The thought was that you'd ideally want to continue your buzz with the same 'bean' or 'leaf'- but that you could use other blends to prevent the debuff and just acquire another buff. 

 

But yes- you'd basically only be able to buy a limited selection at one time- the merchant has only so much. So if you think you can use what's available economically, then it's worth your while. Or, even, if you need the drink the day there's a boss fight for example. 

 

I'm not sure I'll implement it because indeed, accessibility is the issue. I'll play around with the idea some more.

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While this could be an interesting mechanic (if well balanced), I'm a little more concerned with the ethical connotations of it (which is a rare thing for me). It is essentially an addiction comparable to drugs and tobacco which, depending on the target audience of the game, might come off as a little bit encouraging of such things. Especially if it isn't well balanced and the addiction is portrayed as being mostly a positive in game habit. Just throwing it out there. I don't usually concern myself with the ethics of video games, but this kind of mechanic just seems doomed for negative attention from the press if your game takes off.

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Well, my intention was more to suggest that the game reflects real life comedically because it's assigned a statistical value. You get a bit weird after not drinking it. I appreciate the concern though and will take it into account. 

Edited by Stumpmaestro

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My play style might not be typical of most people but I went through the entire Fallout series (1 through 3 & New Vegas) pretty much avoiding chems because I didn't want to be annoyed by the addiction and withdrawal issues. I think there might've been one or two times where it was made plane to me that I needed some stat to be like 90 and I was at 85 and so after I restored from a save so I could have the option provided to me again I used the relevant chem so I could pass the one check. If I didn't think the result was worth it, I'd restore from the point before taking the chem and proceed from there.

 

The idea that you have one of a few options to choose from before setting out on a quest and that you need to have selected the one option that is correct to complete  the quest doesn't bother me much. It's not much different than a basic "find the key to proceed" sort of situation. For some reason I'm thinking having to discover and choose the right blend of coffee or tea to start with or otherwise take with you could actually be an amusing game element. Kinda like trying to find a combination to a lock where if the combination is close you can almost succeed. But if I know that I'll have a pretty good chance at succeeding at a quest without having to worry about dealing with a negative effect vs eventually having to worry about it,  I will take the route where I avoid the negative consequence.

 

Since it sounds like this idea is only an option that you're considering and not something that would be a significant element to your game, I don't think it'd be particularly worthwhile,.

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^this is the kind of response I required. Thank ye heartily- it has the insight into the player psychology I needed.

 

By making it optional I had hoped to just have it there for 'fun'. But it seems as if the cost would be more than the intended effect on multiple fronts.

Edited by Stumpmaestro

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I like idea of having the player looking for coffee beens, having a bonus by being under caffeine sounds good too !

If the debuff punishment impact negatively the stats, I would be afraid to create frustration for the player.

May be a visual effect, a sick face texture or a different idl animation for the character could represent the debuff...

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