• Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  

To use mana or not? (that is the question)

This topic is 994 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Hi

Im doing a party dungeon crawler with permadeath, similar to darkest dungeon.

 

You have a party of up to (in the end) 6 characters, which can be placed in front or back row. You gear up in town and set out to clear dungeons. If you give up and go back to town to heal and rest (to save characters close to death), the dungeon is reset.

 

When you encounter monsters, combat is turned-based and each character can perform one attack or special skill (based on class) per round. However, there is several ways to handle this:

 

1. All skills (including basic attacks) are "equally good" and you can choose anyone each combat round (used in darkest dungeon)

2. Like 1 but each skill has a cooldown of X turns. More powerful ones have longer cooldown. Cooldowns only refill during combat, not while exploring (so CDs will remain into next fight).

3. Skills cost mana/energy to use, so more powerful skills use more mana, forcing you to plan. It regens in town only (maybe with rare potions as well.

4. Use both CD and energy (like most MMORPGs, like wow)

5. No mana is used. Skills are limited use. So you can only use ice bolt 2 times and healing wave 1 time. Resets in town.

 

What are your thoughts on this? Each character already has HP and morale bars, so another bar (mana/energy) might be too much. BUT including an energy-bar might open up that for other tactical choices. Do i use 20 energy to forage for food / break open a door / climb a watch tower during the travels, or do i skip it to use more energy for skills in combat?

 

I want to avoid making heals (and other skills with remaining benefits) endless/renewable which would defeat the need to go back to town (is a problem with method 1 and 2).

 

Thanks for your input!
Erik

Edited by suliman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement


1. All skills (including basic attacks) are "equally good" and you can choose anyone each combat round (used in darkest dungeon)

 

It's hard to balance them that way, and on top of it, the player may get bored.

 


4. Use both CD and energy (like most MMORPGs, like wow)

 

With those two included, balancing becomes much better.

As you're not making an AAA-titles, you may want to focus on mana, and only use CD for some special spells or something like that.

 


5. No mana is used. Skills are limited use. So you can only use ice bolt 2 times and healing wave 1 time. Resets in town.

 

It sounds like a hard game to play.

It also sounds hard to design, since you gotta keep a trip interesting(with 3 spells) and make sure a trip isn't just a repetition of a previous trip.

I think some games use this mechanic through one-time-use scrolls, usually having something to do with the story/progression(or a "transport-back-to-town-scroll")

 

6.

This is partially stolen from Golden Sun(GBA iirc):

Each character can bring with him one djinn, this djinn passively boosts the character, some stats-increase and maybe slow health-regeneration.

Each djinn can also be activated for his skill, this skill is strong enough to change the course of a battle,

but the djinn is exhausted and loses his passive(and active) until a town is visited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard limiting abilities would probably be very frustrating. I like the mana option though, that would make the game very tactical. You could also use cool downs for non-magical but powerful abilities (e.g. a beserker attack or an archery skill-shot).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Limiting amount of casts and replenishing them at resting places is called Vanacian Magic and is done by A LOT of games and is very good if done right.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VancianMagic

http://allthetropes.wikia.com/wiki/Vancian_Magic

 

I kind of like that system, because it allows truly OP magic, since there is a strong incentive to hold back on unleashing your powers, it also allows early spells to remain useful, because they take a small amount of "memory" so much more uses of weak spell can be taken in place of one strong spell. Although the game I like it because of (Dark Souls) is considered very hard, has good level design with plenty of resting places and magic isn't main combat technique there. Fear of running out of spells and limited mileage are probably two worst aspects of vanacian magic.

 

A game with mixed system could be interesting and unique too, either a system where there are more magical schools and each is vanacian OR cooldown OR mana based (with few flavors of mana maybe, like rage, focus, mana, energy, ect.) or one where vanacian is just a start and when you run out of these casts you can cast same stuff using mana, which regenerates very slowly so the gameplay turns from trying to conserve the magic ammo between towns to trying to not spend the magic ammo and mana too quickly and to always vary it up instead of spamming one spell.

Edited by FRex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would hard limits be frustrating? The basic attack would be infinite obviously. 

 

One example could be for a cleric-class:
1. Basic attack (infinite)

2. Strong attack/cleave (3 uses, 3turn CD)

3. Ally buff, lasts a couple of combat-rounds (3 uses, 3 turn CD)

4. Healing wave (1 use)

 

In the example, no 4 is really strong but only one use per dungeon.

 

With energy (get 50 ep, refills after the dungeon):

1. Basic attack (0-2 ep)

2. Strong attack (8 ep)

3. Ally buff (10 ep)

4. Healing wave (25 ep)

 

The problem with mana only is that it might end up using some classes just for one thing, for example if a cleric can heal and do some damage skills (which both cost mana) you might end up ONLY using the heal and not wanting to "waste" mana on a more diverse set of skills. This is mainly a problem with skills that grants persisting effects (such as healing):

Damage skills: helps the current fight

Healing: helps also in all following fights (so it can not be limitless)

 

Hard limits would encourage the player to use all different skills i thought...

 

A complicated issue i know! More thoughts? What about using energy but ALSO limiting some powerful skills to certain no of uses?

Edited by suliman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I kind of like action point systems cause of their flexibility, how about spells require to be charged up and you spend action points x for y charges and there is a minimum of action points you must spend per turn/time for a spell, there could even be an upkeep cost if you store a spell.

 

So  lets say you have 100 action points  and need to spend 80 points for fireball at a rate of 1.25 gaining 100 charges (which also only requires 100) your casting a fireball each turn and have 20 action points left to dodge

If you charged the fireball beforehand lets say you needed to spend 40 points for upkeep and 50 points if you melee attacked, then you would not have 20 points left to evade, on the other hand injury could also cause you lose of action points.

Now lets say someone had the talent combat mage(halfs the spending minimum for action points) and focused will (25% less spell upkeep)

then he could spend 40 points to charge fireball (gaining 50 charges enabling to cast cast fireball every second turn) and 50 points for melee still not enough left to dodge

but if he charged fireball beforehand  he would only spend 30 points for upkeep leaving exactly enough points to attack and dodge in the same turn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Limited uses or mana are essentially the same mechanically. It doesn't matter how you shuffle around the numbers, it's still a limit on the casts. There are a lot of alternative casting methods, but mana or limited uses seems the clearest and straight forward.

 

The white-wolf pencil-and-paper RPG Mage had an interesting casting mechanic. The more powerful the spell you cast, the higher chance there would be a backlash. The backlash would either bring about some ill effect or damage the player. It kind of opens the door to allowing silly-powerful spells at the cost of the character's well being or possibly their life. The ShadowRun pencil-and-paper RPG had something similar as well. The player would become dazed or possibly pass-out if they cast too many spells in a row or too powerful of a spell for them.

 

However, it seems that your design is leaning more toward hard-limits, and the above mechanics are soft-limits. If the rest of your game is based around hard numbers, and less on probability, then limited casts seems to be the hardest and clearest of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any of your options could work, its looks to me as though you have two basic scenarios:

 

1. Force return to town for health and morale reasons only.

2. Force for skill re-activate reasons in addition to health and morale.

 

In the end it all comes down to balance, how often does the player have to return to town versus how often they can progress through a complete run.

 

Note though that Darkest Dungeon doesn't just let you use any skill at any time. Things are limited by range to avoid players just spamming the most powerful skill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Working without mana is viable.

Oldschool pen-and-pencil RPGs had you select your spells every RPG-day. You're given 'slots', you allocate them, you consume them, you're done.

More recently, you were allowed to select them on the fly.

I'm not up do date with the most recent advancements. Nonetheless, requiring to go back to town seems an immensely slow mechanic. Unless magic is extremely powerful OR you give many more slots OR you want to nerf magic on purpose, that seems to reduce casting effectiveness quite a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well this thread applies to all non-basic skills, not only spells. Barbarian cleave, ranger inspiration-buffs etc.

 

Forcing the player to return to town (which gameplay-wise may be instant, im not sure yet) serves two purposes:

1. Main reason: You give up the dungeon and must fight a new (random) dungeon of the same level next time you try. When you are close to completing a dungeon do you risk loosing some adventurer (permadeath) to push on to complete the dungeon?

2. Resource management. Potions, health, morale and (possibly) energy resources has to be planned, since they only regen in town (Ale at the inn everybody!).

 

@Dragoncar

Darkest dungeon LETS you spam the "best" skill infinitely if you are in the correct position for that skill. I found this one of the flaws as some skills were never used on many classes (it was better to just use the "best" skill every turn).

 

 

Im now leaning towards:

 - Using energy resource (everyone loves colored bars!)

 - MAYBE use short cooldown (like 2-3 turns to avoid spamming)

 - Have hard limits only on sustained effects (mainly heals and dungeon-altering skills)

Edited by suliman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement