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Completely custom skills mechanic for RPG

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Hey, guys!

 

I have a core idea for game mechanic, but it's not completed and I'm looking for anyone to discuss it.

Will be glad for any feedback.

 

UPD: here is the latest version for now: https://goo.gl/bsYjX9 (google docs)

UPD2: also here is a Discord channel to discuss.

 

It's not game/theme specific, but for example let's talk about fantasy-style (MMO)RPG game.

 

In current games EVERY skill is pre-defined by developers, and players can only learn/unlock some skills after some conditions.

I'm going to implement a mechanic which allows to create literally anything right in game.

There is few games for programmers, which allows to code skills – I'm not talking about such things, my idea is aimed for casual players.

 

So, basic things:

1. everything is made from "elements" (or "particles")

2. player can somehow control such elements (e.g. with telekinesis)

3. any skill is an algorithm which form/compose/move such elements in one way or another

 

For example:

Fireball: need to collect some fire elements from environment, compress it and then push it in some direction.

So, when fireball hit a target, target's structure (which is also made from some elements) is affected by fire elements (for example, it could make a damage).

 

Almost any usual magic skill from existing games could be implemented in this way.

Most complex skill are those which affecting target's properties (e.g., increase player's speed)

And I still can't figure out how to implement teleportation & portals in that mechanic.

 

And, more important, not sure what to do with skills for "physical" characters – warriors, archers, rogues and so on.

 

Second issues is about UI/UX for such mechanics: don't know how to make a skills constructor which allows to build any skills and in the same time looks not complex for players.

 

I'm not yet talking about balancing or viability of such mechanic in real game, just trying to make some kind of Proof of concept.

 

Again, will be glad to get any feedback/questions/suggestions/thoughts.

Edited by norlin

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If the player's body is made from one or more types of particles, that might allow physical characters to fit into this system.  You might have one type of particles for muscle strength and one for muscle speed and one for skin toughness...

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If the player's body is made from one or more types of particles, that might allow physical characters to fit into this system.  You might have one type of particles for muscle strength and one for muscle speed and one for skin toughness...

Yep, thanks, I thought about this option.

In this case, all "physical" skills could be manipulations with such "physical" elements, in opposition to "magic" elements – but than not entirely clear, why warriors can't manipulate magic "elements" and why magicians can't manipulate "physical" elements...

Of course, it could be just hard-coded inside mechanics, but I'm trying to avoid any hard-coding for skills. Rather to create a kind of very basic physical laws.

 

p.s. to be clear, any type of character should be able to control everything, but still, there should be preferences for those who choosing one way or another.

Edited by norlin

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This idea sounds something similar to what Ive made in the past and going to convert into a playable game next months. But I dont go for the idea that "fire particles" exists. To not tell too much here, everything in the world has an ammount of energy that floats in harmonic with each other energy arround it. A talented character can feel that energy and try to manipulate it by using his own energy to affect it.

 

To go for your fire example lets take a look what fire is. Fire is heat and heat is physicaly just quickly movement so to generate heat you need to quickly move some particles by adding energy to them. So you have a heat wave up to here. To make fire of it you need something that is able to burn like carbon.

 

Based on this physical schema I build up everything that could be named "magical" except the fighting skills and whatever a good RPG also have. These skills are trained when using certain weapons, block, shoot and whatever someone could do. I like the TES skill system in this way.

 

Fire is a more simple skill like healing but such things like portals are more complex. You could either have them the way that portals speed up someone lightning fast to the end like teleportation would do or drill a whole into space what is the theorem of wormwholes in quantum physics.

Necromancy is also very difficult.

 

To have static effects like "enchantments" I decided to make it possible to transfer some ammount of energy into an object (a crystall or gem) that will continiously drain it to the enchanted object in some special way (like a burning weapon)

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You could either have them the way that portals speed up someone lightning fast to the end like teleportation would do or drill a whole into space what is the theorem of wormwholes in quantum physics.

Well, that's obvious, yes. But how to implement it in the same system as other skills? I mean, you have "energies", I have "particles" (it's also a kind of energy, just I've choose particles for easier visualization, for now). But how player should affect such energies to "drill a hole" or "speed up" someone with those energies?

 

 

Necromancy is also very difficult

For me, I'm thinking about some kind of "mind" particles (or mind "energy") which is core in-game representation of any AI or player.

So, roughly, player can "take" mind particles from, say, a wolf and then bind this particles to a dead corpse (bunch of "flesh" particles) -> then wolf AI will control such corpse.

 

So, as I understand, you didn't make any custom skills system for warriors? they just hitting with their weapon and than constantly increasing their damage for this type of weapons? I mean, there is no special abilities for warriors? (such as "stunning hit" or AoE hit – multiple enemies at once, or kind of "push" – to repel an enemy, etc...)

into a playable game next months

Do you have any page for your project? With description/examples/etc...

Edited by norlin

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Well, that's obvious, yes. But how to implement it in the same system as other skills? I mean, you have "energies", I have "particles" (it's also a kind of energy, just I've choose particles for easier visualization, for now). But how player should affect such energies to "drill a hole" or "speed up" someone with those energies?

 

 

Energy as its base is yes, some kind of particles the photons we are summarizing in magnetic radiation of different lengths and atomic radiation alpha-/beta-/gamma radiations but any of this is irrelevant for know. If I would go depper into detail I would tell too much for now but I can say that we have seperated that energy into categories based on the four elements and then you could do two kinds of actions, draining and enclosing. Making ice for example you drain energy from water by targeting a creek for example.

Its more something of principle of cause and effect with a lot of physics and thoughts of "how would something react on that" design.

 

At some point a game needs to make rules and even your concept needs such rules to work properly. For us this was the best solution to make something flexible away from the good old skill trees. I for myselfe hate fixed skill trees where you need to unlock skill X for getting skill Z and also dislike the concept of classes in RPG games. Therefor my favorite game arround at the moment is still TES Skyrim.

 

 


So, as I understand, you didn't make any custom skills system for warriors? they just hitting with their weapon and than constantly increasing their damage for this type of weapons? I mean, there is no special abilities for warriors? (such as "stunning hit" or AoE hit – multiple enemies at once, or kind of "push" – to repel an enemy, etc...)

 

 

The question is why do you need an extra skill for dashing someone with your shield? Do you need a skill to open a door or eat some potatoes .. I dont think so. So why should you need a skill to take a wepon and hit someone, the answer is you dont need it. As I already mentioned, I like the TES skill system from oblivion or skyrim where you train your skills by just using them. We will have some kind of realtime combat system where each move could follow another one to make a floating combat style without always hitting the attack button. The more often you use some weapons the better will your skills be with that wepon for example damage and hit ratio or you may zoom a little with a bow.

 

 


Do you have any page for your project? With description/examples/etc...

 

 

Except some google docs for game design there isnt anything yet to show

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The question is why do you need an extra skill for dashing someone with your shield?

Because at the moment there is no controller which allows to control ANY character movement as I can control my own body.

 

Hmm, I've played Skyrim but mostly as a mage, don't remember how it works for warriors... At least, as I remember, there is an ability to block with a shield. Will check it, thanks.

 

you train your skills by just using them

Again, it allows only to improve simple hits with some weapon. There is no feints/tricks and so on.

Edited by norlin

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Shouldnt the main question here be what do you expect for feints/tricks someone could do? Maybe youre over designing something on the track to be unique?

It's not about "unique". Instead, it's about most of RPG games – almost every game has a special abilities for warriors. Stun hits, disarm enemy, bash with shield, parry a hit, make a feint to trick enemy.

Also, abilities such as a backstab (which is not just stab from the back, but special hit which causing more damage – so, warrior need to learn in somehow).

 

Again, in case of sci-fi virtual reality with full immersive and full character body control, it's unnecessary. But we still have only keyboards/mouses & gamepads, nothing more (for common games).

 

p.s. and anyway, no one will want to play a warrior when warriors can only hit while magicians can control everything and make hundreds of different things.

Edited by norlin

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If the player's body is made from one or more types of particles, that might allow physical characters to fit into this system.  You might have one type of particles for muscle strength and one for muscle speed and one for skin toughness...

Yep, thanks, I thought about this option.

In this case, all "physical" skills could be manipulations with such "physical" elements, in opposition to "magic" elements – but than not entirely clear, why warriors can't manipulate magic "elements" and why magicians can't manipulate "physical" elements...

Of course, it could be just hard-coded inside mechanics, but I'm trying to avoid any hard-coding for skills. Rather to create a kind of very basic physical laws.

 

p.s. to be clear, any type of character should be able to control everything, but still, there should be preferences for those who choosing one way or another.

 

I would recommend you don't make it impossible for warriors to manipulate magic elements or for mages to manipulate physical elements.  What's the point of having a flexible system but then forbidding hybrid classes to be made with it??  But preferences, sure, you just have to allow the character to invest points or quests towards increasing their control of one element or another.

Edited by sunandshadow

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I like the TES skill system from oblivion or skyrim where you train your skills by just using them

 

I've re-checked Skyrim to remember, and it's not completely true.

Yes, you're training skills by using them, but there is also a perks points.

 

And with perks you can "learn" skills/abilities: backstab, critical charge and more. That's what I'm talking about.

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Its not 'completely'  as it HAS to be based on recombination selection of precanned elements (provided in the game code/animations, game mechanics, and what options the 'creation' interface allows).

 

Variations of action appearance is one thing (recombination of particle effects) , and the payout (affect on things in the game) are another.

 

Too complex/specialized and the 'action'/tactic/weapon becomes, too limited in its use.  Too loopholey powerful and the player will uses little else (and maybe destroys any challenging gameplay).

 

The system of advancement ramps likewise comes into play  --- that  is to facilitate the game  (player experience development) which thus limits 'customization and may impose a pattern of improvements which must be compatible with the other 'precanned' elements.

 

 

 

 

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it HAS to be based on recombination selection of precanned elements
that is what I'm going to avoid in my game mechanic.

 

Of course, it will have some magic laws/rules, but no predefined effects (in any way – in-game effect or graphic effect).

 

 

That's going to be the problem.  Although on paper it seems fun and doable, but when translated to code and animation it's almost impossible.  You'd have to procedurally design everything including animations and interactions between atoms.  To make fire looks and feels like fire would require an artist's touch.  Even say you get yourself some fire effects with procedural only, then how do you make water element not look like a blue fire?

 

We are only talking about the animation here, what about the effects between atoms?

 

Unless you are reprogramming the universe itself, procedurally generating everything could reach past that threshold of expectation where suspension of disbelief can no longer help you.

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I don't think you can produce emergent skill design with that breadth without reproducing complex physics simulation and than you'd still end up creating artificial laws to govern fantasy behaviors.

In order to have unique effects like PBAOE fire wave, teleport behind opponent and backstab, or remote cursing, you'd either need a set of combination laws that artificially produce unrelated effects just because, or you'd need the detail to modify every aspect manually.

I don't think your going to get parrying and upward blasting remote fire by combining abstract elements.

Elderscrolls Oblivion had a deep spell crafting mechanism, but you were limited to producing effects with one of a few targeting options, games like Project Spark have customizable character actions, but you can only create within the features operational in the game.

It all depends on exactly what kind of system and setting your dealing with, but for an MMO setting, there's a lot of tech limitations to consider beyond satisfaction variables like balance and accessibility.

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without reproducing complex physics simulation

That's exactly what I'm thinking about. A kind of "magic physics" laws which allows to create any imaginable effect.

Of course, there will be some restrictions/requirements for balance/progression/etc., but it's outside of this topic.

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without reproducing complex physics simulation

That's exactly what I'm thinking about. A kind of "magic physics" laws which allows to create any imaginable effect.

Of course, there will be some restrictions/requirements for balance/progression/etc., but it's outside of this topic.

 

 

I don't think that's practical, they will only be able to create within the scope of effects you can imagine, and you'll have to be far more creative to balance every possible creation.

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1. everything is made from "elements" (or "particles") 2. player can somehow control such elements (e.g. with telekinesis) 3. any skill is an algorithm which form/compose/move such elements in one way or another
Not sure what 3 is about yet, but let's ignore that for now, and assume we have it in some way.

 

Your example

Fireball: need to collect some fire elements from environment, compress it and then push it in some direction ...
I see a bunch of problems with the example.

 

What are "fire" elements? How do you define them? All I have is "particles" and "player can control them".

What is "environment"? How do you define it? All I have is "particles" and "player can control them".

What does "compress" mean? You don't have "collection of particles in close proximity". How can you define it? All I have is "particles" and "player can control them".

 

I haven't reached the point of "push", or "hit" or "do damage", and have major trouble already. The example uses concepts and words that you cannot express in "I have particles and player can control them". If you want to have a concept in your world, you must have a means to express it in that world, or you cannot differentiate between "fire elements" and "other than fire elements", between "in the environment" and "not in the environment", or between "compressed fire elements" and "just a collection of fire elements in the environment".

 

That implies you need a lot more than just "particles" and "control by player".

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I see a bunch of problems with the example.

 

Well, I don't see such problems. Try not to ignore things which marked as "basic" – maybe than you can understand.

 

Obviously, each type of elements has some kind of different behaviour/different parameters.

Obviously, all elements has some basic rules "how to interact".

Obviously, "environment" does not need any special description (unless you're expecting a big game-design document here).

 

About "compress" try to look here: https://www.google.com/search?q=meaning+of+word+compress (the "verb" part)

 

The example uses concepts and words that you cannot express in "I have particles and player can control them"

Actually, I can.

 

In common, not sure for what purpose you're arguing semantics, so can't add anything else here.

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In common, not sure for what purpose you're arguing semantics, so can't add anything else here.
I am trying to find the simplest example where you have to create a new mechanic in-game.

 

The idea is that a simple new mechanic such as your example should be trivial to implement in terms of the game elements. So far I fail to see how to do that. It is thus a lot less trivial than it is assumed to be, at least for me.

 

 

I don't buy your hand-waving "this is too simple to consider" is a valid solution, but fair enough.

Instead of the "throw fireball", please give another example where you need to make a new property, and show how to do that.

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It's not trivial in common, since there should not be any difference in the mechanic to throw fireball or to cast any other spell. Any spell should work by the same common rules. And I'm working exactly on this task – develop such rules, at least theoretically (before programming it).

 

please give another example where you need to make a new property, and show how to do that.

I don't understand – which "new property" do you mean?

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Any new property that you need for an algorithm.

 

 

Let's say, burn elements to get warm.

 

elements need to get a property when they ignite (and perhaps how), how long they can burn, you need to express how much heat they produce. Heat must becomes available to people "nearby", so you need some form of 'near' and 'not near' property (a person on the other side of the earth may not get warm, although, maybe if I want that, how do I express that?), perhaps with a computation how much warmer you get.

 

I don't think this is different from being able to express how close fire elements must be to collect them, or how compress works (eg when is it "compressed enough"?), or how "throw" only moves the compressed fire elements and not some other elements that just happen to float around. (With things like how does it move? What  is its trajectory, how does it decelerate? How does it detect a body, how does it decide not to fly through it, but collide instead (imagine I want a fireball only hitting every second person or so, how do you make "every second person"?).

 

If you want to really introduce new mechanisms like above, you need to be able to express the conditions, and the effects in terms of concepts in the game, I think.

This is also the main problem, how do you create and handle a-priori unknown properties, conditions, and effects? I am not talking about how to enter them, just the problem of creating them, and express how they work, as that's complicated enough, I think.

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Hi all,
 
this is a very interesting thread that brought me back to gamedev.net. The described concept to construct actions in an MMO by combining elemental ingredients is pretty much the same we plan to introduce to our project Illarion (www.illarion.org). Arcane magic in Illarion will consist of five basic, elemental runes that can be combined with (theoretically) any given number of all other runes. Each rune adds another basic type of effect to the overall spell with slight differences, depending on the elemental rune. See this attachment, an extract of the current design document:
 
[sharedmedia=core:attachments:33256]

 

The simple fireball is a fire elemental rune plus a rune that makes the effect "fly". Combined with other runes, very complex effects could be generated. The very same additional runes with another elemental rune might result in a somehow related, yet completely different spell.

 

However, this is magic. For crafting and fighting, we use a rather ordinary approach. What is comparable unique about Illarion is how we handle the improvement of skills. We use something that can be described as "undertuned proportional controller" to tune the actual skillgain per action. This controller results in every player generating the same amount of skill increase in a given time frame. In other words; whether a player decides to craft a lot or prefers to talk to other players does not have an impact on the total learning gain in the long run. Illarion is strictly "learning by doing", so you increase the skills you use, only. This might look odd at first glance but it has a certain appeal about it, considering the main target audience is roleplayers who tell each other endlessly about their adventures and plot political intrigues rather than grinding all day long to reach level 78. Code can be reviewed here:

 

https://github.com/Illarion-eV/Illarion-Content/blob/master/server/learn.lua

 

We're aware that this system scares off many gamers and we are constantly looking for ideas how to improve Illarion; hence I found this thread :-).

 

Estralis

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OP For something like what you sound like you want, it requires the player be able to actually SCRIPT game mechanics at a low level and quite exactly (... not just twiddle with coefficients and select modal options/combinations from some precanned system).

 

I looked at design issues for some future-ish MMORPG game with features allowing Player Created Assets, and judged that such scripting would be only doable by a handful of players CORRECTLY (out of several hundred thousand players).  The advantage there would be such assets created by that required expertise could be propagated into the game used by all the other players.

 

Have you gone through the process and built such game mechanics yourself yet (in a game as detailed as you describe) to understand all that is done/involved in such a process (just programming it and not even yet the part needed to expose access to the player for the feature) ???   Players allowed to do so as a feature would have to understand and have the skills to do the same (to the extent of what you have defined you want them able to create).

Edited by wodinoneeye

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