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Spell / Ability system

game mechanics magic ability combo spell cooldown rest

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#1
cealicu_ca

cealicu_ca

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Hi there,

I've put my TLDR in the Cooldown 2.0 thread but i really want to expand a bit.

Seeing as there is much discussion around this cooldown thing i would like to propose a mechanic that seems pretty good to me (or course it does, duh!, i'm proposing it lol).

Ok, let's get to the point.

1. Basics

Each ability or spell has two components: Proficiency and Efficiency.

Proficiency is gained (points) through the use of abilities/spells or combos, and starts to decay naturally (percentage of the current number of points) after a fixed amount or time. It stops decaying once you use the ability/spell or a combo that uses that ability/spell.

Efficiency is lost (percentage of the current number of points) through the use of abilities/spells or combos and starts to regenerate naturally (points) after a fixed amount of time. It stops regenerating once you use the ability/spell or a combo that uses that ability/spell.

1.a. - Proficiency is measuring how skilled is the PC in using that ability/spell. It goes up each time you use an ability/spell against and enemy that is not below a certain level compared to yours and scales with that level difference. For example if you use an ability on a target that is 3 level below you (or more), you will get no Proficiency points, if you use the ability/spell against a target that is the same level as you, you get 5 Proficiency points and if you use the ability/spell against a target that is 3 levels above you (or more), you get 10 Proficiency points.

Of course, some other game mechanics (like the ability/spell is saved against or blocked completely) might be used when fighting against targets way above your level.

Proficiency is used to advance your ability, either by directly applying a buff to the effects of that ability/spell, or by simply moving towards the next tier (so using Bash will slowly gain you Proficiency points towards Improved Bash). The latter would mean that the PC only learns the most basic spells/abilities from external sources, and the more improved abilities/spells he discovers by actually using the related lower tiered ones.

Also, Proficiency slowly decays (at the same time as the Efficiency goes up) but it will never reach 0 (it decays by a fixed percentage of the total points that you have, so the more time passes the less it decays).

1.b - Efficiency is measuring how that ability/spell is performing, considering on how many times it has been used, successfully, over a certain period of time. The Efficiency is regenerating naturally (or through other means like drinking from a well, whatever), slowly, over the course of time. Each time you use an ability/spell however, it drops by a percentage (let's say 5%) so that if you use it 5 times in a row it will only be at 77% Efficiency.

This translates into reduced effects (for the sake of simplicity only direct damage or damage over time, or direct protection/healing or protection/healing over time). So if a certain ability does, let's say, 10-20 damage, after it's first use it will drop to 9-18 damage, after the second use it will again drop to 8-17 damage (rounded up) and so on. As you can see, it's not going to be a liniar drop so you don't get to use it only 20 times before reaching 0. You will actually never reach 0 as it will always go down by 5% (of the total Efficiency points).

The first time you use it it will drop by 5 points, the second time again by 5 points, by the time you reach 80 points (out of 100) it will only drop by 4 points. All numbers are rounded up, so if it drops by 4.6 it actually drops by 5 points, as opposed to 4.2 that would translate into 4 points.

There might be game mechanics or skills/perks that either reduce this decay per usage or rise your maximum Efficiency to more than 100 points. It's really open to any kind of tweaking, just like the Proficiency.

EDIT: I forgot. Just like Proficiency, the Efficiency percentage that decays with each use should be calculated using the same rules, related to the level difference between the attacker and the target.

2. Combo

I know that this is not really related to the system, but it would work great with it.

The system lets the PC combine any previously learned ability/spell. At first you will be able to only combine 2 of them, but maybe as you get better and better you might combine more than 2. The effects of the combo are the added effects of the basic constituent abilities/spells calculated at their current level of Proficiency and Efficiency. The Proficiency and Efficiency system works in the following way for combos:

- Each time you use a combo you will gain some proficiency points just like using an individual spell/ability but those points are divided equally towards each basic constituent ability/spell.

- Each time you use a combo you will lose 5% (again just as an example) from the Efficiency of each constituent ability/spell.

3. Conclusions

Such a system, at least in my intention, would do away with resting and cooldowns, mana or stamina.

Every PC will only have those two resources (when talking about abilities/spells or combos), the stats only adding the the effects of those.

The complexity of it comes from the two diverging directions.

PCs are free to use whatever ability/spell or even combo in their arsenal. The advantage is that the more you use an ability/spell or combo you will slowly advance towards better abilities/spells and of course combos, the drawback being that if you abuse the system you will soon find yourself with really weak abilities/spells and combos.

Moreover, the PC must decide weather to use a "strong" combo (strong because it has the added effects of the base constituent abilities/spells) or a more basic ability/spell. You wouldn't want to get caught with your pants down (low Efficiency) when encountering a strong hostile NPC because in your last encounter you "wasted" your best combos on some low level critters.

The system could be tweaked and tested, and those numbers that i threw here are definitely not the best, they are only used as an example. The beauty of this system is that it no longer requires a cooldown, no longer requires a rest (or maybe you could regain the Efficiency but lose Profficiency through rest).

Such a system means that the player really needs to use an ability/spell in order to advance (so encourages him to abuse it) but also means that the more it abuses it the weaker that ability/spell it will get (for the moment).

Such a system would mean that the PC will have overpowered combos, but it also means that the player will surely not want to "waste" those OP combos on critters and will always try to save them for when it matters. This would add so much complexity to any fight (imho) as you will always try to "balance" the rewards of killing the opponents as fast as you can with the risk of not having your best combo at top efficiency for the next encounter.

Also, in longer fight this would mean that the PC must rely on a well rounded and diversified arsenal, because if he uses the same abilities/spells and well as combos that use those abilities/spells as basic constituents he will soon lose all of those due to them being weaker because of low Efficiency. On the other hand he is encouraged to use them as often as possible in order to make them better (gain Proficiency).

I'm pretty sure this is not perfect, some of you might just think it's rubbish (and by the way it's somewhat inspired from Rage of Mages 2, the Proficiency part at least) but i like it (again duh!) and with some tweaking and/or refinement i really think it would work. There's at least one person here that would, in theory at least, be excited to see it implemented.

4. Expanded

The game could play with such a system, by adding skills that lower your Efficiency decay but also lower the Proficiency gained (you get a PC or companion that is able to use the preferred abilities/spells more often while not being able to advance that fast), or by adding items that will tweak any of those components (or by adding Max. Efficiency points).

You could get abilities (non PC, or even PC) that would temporarily raise your Efficiency (PC) or temporarily lower your Efficiency (hostile NPC).

And probably much, much more than that.

P.S. Oh darn... lvl 10 Fire Dragon... where's my Ice Shard + Stun combo? Oh sh!t, Ice shard is at 65 Efficiency... what do i do, what do i do. Why did i used Ice Shard on those lvl 7 Rogues?!?!

Edited by cealicu_ca, 03 October 2012 - 01:04 AM.


#2
SGray

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Perfectly fit for spam of low level nukes, or better - their combos, on my mind. Am i wrong?

#3
cealicu_ca

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Perfectly fit for spam of low level nukes, or better - their combos, on my mind. Am i wrong?


If you "spam" them you will get to a very low efficiency quite fast. True, you will gain Proficiency :yes: So what's it gonna be? Do you risk having your Efficiency so low for your next encounter only to gain some Proficiency in this encounter (and dispatch of your attackers with ease)?

Or considering a longer fight... Do you really want to save the nukes for when it matters or just spam them away (and make them useless in the process) and see where you go from there?

Quoting myself here:

"So if a certain ability does, let's say, 10-20 damage, after it's first use it will drop to 9-18 damage, after the second use it will again drop to 8-17 damage (rounded up) and so on."
After 10 "spam" uses, the 10-20 damage ability will be at 6-12 damage (with 5% decay in Efficiency) or 5-10 (with 7% decay in Efficiency), 3-7 (with 10% Efficiency decay). Still a good nuke? The decay percentage can be tweaked, i only used 5% as an example.

Also, this will lower the effects on ANY combo that uses that ability/spell (the effects of that ability only) as well as, in the case of a combo, it will lower the Efficiency of ALL the basic constituent abilities/spells leaving you with low Efficiency "nuke" combo AND low Efficiency basic abilities/spells (this is probably the worst case scenario).

Edited by cealicu_ca, 03 October 2012 - 01:18 AM.


#4
SGray

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Haven't explained correctly. Take all possible low level nukes that restoring not too long and just circle through them. 3-4 would be enough for not to decay efficiency too fast or to not to decay at all, otherwise you are too limited on spells when not using such tactics. If there are more of them - conveniently pack them to combos, to maintain 3-4 click quantity. Just ignore other spells to maintain proficiency. Use one more button for one high level nuke when you're bored.
*Flaw very similar to cooldown's one, i think.

Using upper - all your top lvl nukes are untouched before the boss, so why not to drop them on his head in sequencers couple of times, even if low proficiency?

Edited by SGray, 03 October 2012 - 01:50 AM.


#5
cealicu_ca

cealicu_ca

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Haven't explained correctly. Take all possible low level nukes that restoring not too long and just circle through them. 3-4 would be enough for not to decay efficiency too fast or to not to decay at all, otherwise you are too limited on spells when not using such tactics. If there are more of them - conveniently pack them to combos, to maintain 3-4 click quantity. Just ignore other spells to maintain proficiency. Use one more button for one high level nuke when you're bored.
*Flaw very similar to cooldown's one, i think.

Using upper - all your top lvl nukes are untouched before the boss, so why not to drop them on his head in sequencers couple of times, even if low proficiency?


First of all i don't understand what you mean by low level nukes. Generally speaking a low level ability will most likely wound the opponent, so you need to use several of them in order to kill one opponent. So if you start circling through 3-4 low level abilities/spells (for example Fire Arrow, Swipe, Poison, Bash) you will get them ALL to low Efficiency but high Proficiency. Nonetheless, your main nukes (so to speak), the combos that have those in their composition will also suffer from the lowered Efficiency.

Second, what do you mean by "restoring not too long"? The decay in Efficiency is the same across the board, for each spell/ability/combo, it should not differ from one to another.

So let's say that you circle them (this is the point actually, to make you use not one, not two but many spells/abilities and decide when to use them based on when you really need them). If you use the same you will gain Proficiency in it (so you get better at using it) but nonetheless you Efficiency will drop (for that ability/spell/combo) and thus you will be forced to use another one (while using that another one your Proficiency for the previous ability/spell/combo) will start decaying.

The point is that the moment your efficiency starts to regenerate, you proficiency will start to decay. This happens after a set amount of time, not after you stopped using it. So even if you start using another ability/spell/combo it should take some time before the previous ability/spell/combo is back at top notch Efficiency.

So i think that in your example (with 3-4 combos that mix most of your abilities) you will soon find yourself in the position of not having ANY ability/spell/combo that's Efficient enough to do the job (since you used them all, even in sequence, before they got the chance to start regenerating Efficiency).

Even more, let's say that you manage to keep them at respectable level of Efficiency by circling them. Well, circling them like in a WoW style manner would do you no good, simply because some of them are better for one encounter while others might be useless (fun RPG system). So you need to prioritize, to only use what is really necessary. The encounter itself restricts you from using such tactic.

As for your "upper nukes" they will be either at low Proficiency (let's say that you make combos out of spells/abilities that you don't cycle) or at low Efficiency. Which means that they are no longer "upper nukes" are they? Yes, use them in sequence and whatever only to find out that you barely made a dent, you Efficiency if in the grave, and you have nothing to fight with since you already had the Efficiency of your other skills in the pit.

To answer your question - you would be prevented by the very fact that low Proficiency skills can't really be "nukes".

So again, i don't see the benefit or just using the same X number of skills regardless of the situation, just to keep them from decaying in Efficiency.

I really think that any player using such a system will have to try and balance it out, having in mind not only the current situation but also trying to have back-up for the next encounters too. Yes, of course you will specialize, but you will also be forced to use other skills too, otherwise you'll get very low Efficiency on the skills you're trying to specialize into.

Example ("spam"):

- Encounter 1:

2 Skeletons (vulnerable to Bash, Earth, resistant to Thrust, Fire, Water, immune to Air)

You start spamming Bash, Thrust (little to no effect), Earth, Fire (little to no effect). So you wither have a hard time killing them (half of what you use is not going to do that much, also you lower the Efficiency of both Thrust and Earth for nothing) or they defeat you.

- Encounter 2 (after encounter 1. You have respectable Efficiency to all those 4 abilities/spells due to cycling them):

3 Rogues (vulnerable to Bash, Thrust, resistant to Air, Water, immune to Fire)

If you start cycling again you will have the same hard time as before, simply because 1/4 of what you use is doing nothing at all.

So what would be the point of cycling? Ok, let's suppose you'd keep them all at a good Efficiency, and also you prevent Proficiency decay, but each and every encounter you'r struggle because not all the abilities/spells/combos you use have the effect (memorizing anyone? choosing not exactly the best spells?).

On the other hand, as i see it, it would go like this:


Example ("think"):

- Encounter 1:

2 Skeletons (vulnerable to Bash, Earth, resistant to Thrust, Fire, Water, immune to Air)

You use Bash and Earth spells, which lowers you Efficiency with those, but gain Proficiency. Meanwhile the Efficiency to all other spells/abilities/combos (except those that use Bash or Earth) stay at max.

- Encounter 2 (after encounter 1. You have low Efficiency to Bash and Earth):

3 Rogues (vulnerable to Bash, Thrust, resistant to Air, Water, immune to Fire)

You use Thrust, and Bash and Earth recovers Efficiency (but starts to decay Proficiency).

The difference between the two? Well, in the first case you struggle with most encounters by not thinking (spamming) or even get lucky sometimes and kill them straight away (no system is perfect :biggrin: ) and in the second example you kind of kick their arses most of the time (of course you might get unlucky and get into an encounter when most of your good abilities/spells/combos for that specific encounter are at low Efficiency - but as i've said no system is perfect) but only if you think and plan ahead, keeping some skills on a good Efficiency.

So in a way you are right, you must cycle through, but you can't really do it in the fashion you are describing (or you can, if you really want to just "spam" for the sake of it).

On a final note: Any system can and will be abused. Period.

Cooldown? - Spam
Memorizing? - Reload

I think this system somewhat mixes the two, not having an artificial cooldown (the PC actually decides when to stop using a skill and for how long based of the Efficiency/Proficiency level) and also forcing you to think (reloading just before the current encounter would do you no good) while providing the planning ahead of the memorizing system (using a skill based on the specific of the encounter, your planning ahead and the level of Efficiency/Proficiency) with the freedom of the cooldown (you can really use whatever skill you want).

And instead of having artificial boundaries, you get to think for yourself when and what to use (and it's not the same thing every time, either because of the encounter conditions, or the system limitations).

Edited by cealicu_ca, 03 October 2012 - 03:15 AM.


#6
SGray

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(for example Fire Arrow, Swipe, Poison, Bash) you will get them ALL to low Efficiency but high Proficiency.

Then, player not rushing for nuke variety using, say, 2 nukes, control and debuff, 4 in count, simply is not able to play with that. Could be stretched to bigger numbers.

The decay in Efficiency is the same across the board, for each spell/ability/combo, it should not differ from one to another.

Then you'll never look on lower level spells when you get same number of higher lvl ones.

So let's say that you circle them (this is the point actually, to make you use not one, not two but many spells/abilities ... and thus you will be forced to use another one

Firstly - how many? Second one - exactly what i'm trying to say: using various spells not because they are different or more useful in different situations, but just because you are forced to stack up more nukes.

So i think that in your example (with 3-4 combos that mix most of your abilities) you will soon find yourself in the position of not having ANY ability/spell/combo

So-o-o, whatever you're using you'll have at least 4 spells on cd. Bad for those who aren't stacking nukes. Me - just stretch rotation with more?

let's say that you manage to keep them at respectable level of Efficiency by circling them.

Yep.

Well, circling them like in a WoW style manner would do you no good, simply because some of them are better for one encounter while others might be useless (fun RPG system). So you need to prioritize, to only use what is really necessary. The encounter itself restricts you from using such tactic.

Well... That's good! Even if not-too-easy to implement properly and ballanced. Then why to artificially enforce variety if it already works so?

Example ("spam"):
Example ("think"):

Well, i cant perform well without looking at the screen, sort of an achievement ) So-o-o, spam nukes of proper element, others are no use after all. Any other variants? Again one rushing for number and variety (of more various) nukes clearly wins, and one pursuing higher lvl but less in number spells, or for variously acting and more situational spells looses. (Just worse rotation most of the time.)

On a final note: Any system can and will be abused. Period.

Cooldown? - Spam
Memorizing? - Reload

Great. Except that first - viable in-game by mechanics (and incurable, i think (individual cooldowns -> rush for variety of nukes)), second is metagaming (say that quests are bad, cause you could read the walkthrough) and possibly curable, without affecting convenience of playing, by some tweaks.

And instead of having artificial boundaries ... because of ... system limitations).

Difference?

First iteration:
Individual cooldowns: Cast fireball 10 times, it's power decayed (or on cd), bad. But i have feirball! And its on full power! Not artificial?
Second iteration:
Spell school based cooldowns: Cast fireball 10 times, it's power decayed (or on cd) same as the whole destruction school (feirball included). But i have reduction school! And its on full power! Not artificial?
Third iteration:
Global cooldowns: Cast fireball, oops, standing still for another amount of time. Just unplayable. Closer to real still.
Fourth iteration:
Global limitations: Cast fireball or anything else N times, need to wait for a while. Who said mana??? Viable, but not-so-tempting and too straightforward, on my mind (Diablo).
Fifth iteration:
Mix of former: Not crippling cooldowns + mana, for example. Abusive, or takes much work and time to balance. (First - Dragon Age, second WOW)

Vacanian system is totally different approach. It's artificial to it's max and full of boundaries, but quite an elegant and time-polished construction (using one paradigm, with minimized top level rules), conveniently backed by lore (though with some gaps, i think), and providing tempting, thoughtful and challenging gameplay.
What is bad in it - stumbling upon some walls breaks the immersion. (Can't fit this magic missile in upper lvl slot? Cant cast a spark instead of meteor swarm? Why?)

The point in forum discussion was: to invent something completely new (and not falling apart), or to polish or create more challenging variants of what works well.
To dig in long-passed iterations will rarely produce fruit, or it'll be a hard work. Your system could be polished, but just think about amount of additional rules it'll require.

Edited by SGray, 04 October 2012 - 01:05 PM.






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