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BG2: Health restoration potions cheapen encounters. If you have them, you chug them and that's that. If you don't have them, especially in the early game, you're ****ed. I recently replayed BG2 last year and although I still love the game, the potion system is just lacking. The game would be more fun if it were balanced around the fact you probably won't have potions.

 

Skyrim: 468px-Ice_Wraith_Essence.JPG

 

All of the potions in the TES series are horribly designed: They last 60 to 300 seconds and give you some marginal, usually un-impactful buff (+20 to skill X for 5 minutes). They aren't fun to use and seldom make a difference in a fight. Is there ever a moment when you say to yourself, "I better go stock up on frost resist potions for the next journey!" Nope. They're just a hassle.

 

In BG2 non-restoring potions are better than Skyrim's, but they still don't feel that impactful. They're "fire and forget" - you don't critically time their use at all.

 

The major issue with potion systems can be seen in a game as old as Diablo 2: They take up tons of inventory space, you're often just using them to restore life in critical moments where you screwed up, and boss encounters need to be balanced around them. They slow down combat and feel cheap, most of the time. Your finger just sits on the potion key and you sometimes sleepily spam it, even if your health is full. That's a worse-case scenario though, IE games never had that problem.

 

Non-restoration potions are often horrible because they're designed to last a long time. They can't possibly be that good, or they'd break the game.

 

Most RPG games that come out never solve the issue of potion management. They either make them worthless, or a crutch.

 

I hope Project Eternity can put some conscious effort into developing a sensible potion system, but allow me to offer my own suggestions:

 

Make all non-restoration potions "big gains with short durations" - potions that gaurantee critical hits, make you immune to cold damage, make you attack 200% faster, etc. - huge increases and powers - but they last only a very short time (less than 5 seconds). They are uncommon, expensive, have long cooldowns, and/or be risky to utliize. Players should feel like they are using potions as a conscious strategy and not a button you just click when you're doing bad.

 

I don't really like having cooldowns on potions, but it is one common solution. A better one might be, to have a "potion tolerance" system like the witcher, where you can only drink a certain number of potions in a day, or you will critically poison and kill yourself.

 

Another system is present in Path of Exile, where potions are not transient items, but permanent equip-ables - magical flasks that refill when you defeat enemies. Potions get stats on them and are balanced around the number of drinks you can procure from them per number of kills made in combat.

 

But please do not use the "traditional" potion systems we're familiar with. This is something we can improve upon, but most game designers neglect to.

Edited by anubite
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I don't have a problem with "traditional" potions. They're a resource just like spells. If you don't like them, sell them and buy something else.

 

Most of your concerns appear to be regarding game balance; but if they modify the potions to be more difficult to use and less impactful, that just means they will have to balance that with something else. Potions would need to be more common or encounters less difficult.

Edited by rjshae
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I like the idea of a potion system similar to Path of Exile. That might cooperate very well with the emphasis on souls in PE. The souls of your defeated foes refill your empty vessels, perhaps conferring different effects based on the traits of the specific enemy.

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I actually liked the consumables and potions in IE games. There were a limited number of high-powered throwables (Potions of Explosion, Arrows of Exploding, Wand of Cloudkill, etc) which, except for late-game, worked as highly limited get-out-of-jail cards that were very satisfying to use. I remember getting lucky with the one and only charge in the Wand of Freezing on an ogre mage. Meanwhile you had a good selection of contextual potions like Mirrored Images. The 'buff' potions like Potion of Defense were kind of inconsequential, though.

 

I would support potions/consumables that are rarer but stronger, and have short-term impacts. I'd also like the backlash mechanism on each potion - e.g. each potion has one or two active ingredients, and drinking more than on epotion with the same active ingredient causes overdose problems (any more complex than that and it's just confusing); or, each potion has a negative and positive effect.

 

I'd also like enemies to make use of potions, and for that to be easily detectible. (e.g. certain BG2 mods showed you with a floating text saying "Gulps a potion of X" on an enemy.)

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Potions are fun and valuable resources, as rjsahe already pointed out, like spells and scrolls... if done right.

 

You're right about the potions in Skyrim. In Skyirm you just paused the game in the middle of a fight to quaff potions or to eat, well, say 10 mammoth snouts, to get your health up. That's just ridiculous.

 

But in Baldurs Gate II, quaffing a potion took some time, one round, if I remember right. One round without casting spells or attacking your foes. And this could be a long, long time.

 

I do remember game sessions with Korgan low on health, where I've clicked on his readied healing potions, again and again, shouting "drink, drink f***ing dwarf" but had to see him die...

 

And if I remember right, in Neverwinter Nights 2 it got harder, as your foes got an attack of opportunity if you quaffed a potion.

 

That's something I would like to see in PE as it limits the use of potions but not as excessive as Witcher II.

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Potions in Skyrim suck due to power creep. By level 20, it takes 10 of those minor healing potions to refill you from critical health, and the lower level poisons just aren't useful enough to even make a dent in higher level enemies to be viable. I only found them useful in the 2E games because level scaling was alot more subtle. Potions of heroism were game changers at the lower levels, but still helped at max.

 

To make potions less of a waste, I'd like the following tier calculation:

 

{Base stat % + number based on tier of the potion}

 

On healing potions for example, the + small number will make minor healing potions fully viable to lower levels, but the 30-50% base health increase will still keep them marginally useful at higher levels to top a character off during a lull in the fighting even if the base number of healing is too low to bother with.

 

Also, power progression will need to be kept in check, preferebly at 2E levels. This godawful fixation on 60 levels and massive stat number growth popularized by JRPGs and MMOs has to go.

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Potions don't suck. They just shouldn't be made as common as they are. At the end of most D&D games, for exmaple, I tend to have tens iif not hundreds of the strongest healing potions for example. One of two things should happen either make them more rare or make it so players need to them use them more. as I find myself always 'saving' them for 'harder' battles. Also, make them more expensive as well if you even have them sold. I don't mind there being sellers but it should be expensive.

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Potions and balance? Not a problem if the enemy AI is written to take advantage of it too. There--balanced.

 

(Obviously doesn't work on creatures, but that can be balanced other ways. /shrug)

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Dragon Age: Origins, IIRC, had cooldowns on each potion so that you couldn't just spam a heal potion over and over while paused (as per Skyrim) in order to immediately boost your health to full. Which makes some sense, given that frequently too large a dose of a medicine can be a poison. Don't see why something like that can't work for P:E.

 

I also mostly like the way the Witcher used potions, with planning in advance for encounters, (and also the way you had to balance beneficial effects with the toxicity of too many potions), though I don't think that system would work as well for a party-based game.

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Potions and balance? Not a problem if the enemy AI is written to take advantage of it too. There--balanced.

 

(Obviously doesn't work on creatures, but that can be balanced other ways. /shrug)

 

If I know anything about games these days, you can't expect developers to create AI more dynamic than a vegetable. As much as I like Obsidian, I'm pragmatic here. It's better to just ask for a good potion system, over AI that might try to exploit your use of potions.

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The dragon breathes a foul breath, if you are to slay it you must first collect the blood of a pegasus, From that I will craft a powerful fire potion, hehe. ahem.

What do you mean I don't need pegasus blood for a fire potion, and that I already have a fire potion right here?

 

I think they would feel much more useful if their use was valuable (but maybe not essential) for use during the game.

 

such as my rather lame example of a fight against a foe which you may see coming.

 

but the same could be said for any number of items used in your campaign, you want to find the sword of a thousand souls and have it be special, that means that you can't find new swords of awesomeness under every stone.

 

If potions are used, make them valuable. (but not so valuable as to never want to use them)

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Potions and balance? Not a problem if the enemy AI is written to take advantage of it too. There--balanced.

 

(Obviously doesn't work on creatures, but that can be balanced other ways. /shrug)

 

If I know anything about games these days, you can't expect developers to create AI more dynamic than a vegetable. As much as I like Obsidian, I'm pragmatic here. It's better to just ask for a good potion system, over AI that might try to exploit your use of potions.

 

I remember playing BG2 with a mod a while back that allowed the enemy AI to use the potions and ultimately if you ever wanted to get potions from enemies, you had to kill them before they used them. I remember many of the guards became so much more difficult to kill just because after dealing heavy amounts of damage to them, they would drink potions of extra healing. They made the game quite challenging and you were rewarded well by gaining your enemies potions. Don't get me started on rogues and thieves in the thieves' guild who all had 3 or 4 potions of invisibility. Backstab damages made me sad.

 

Ultimately, it's an easy thing to fix if the devs are aware of it. I concur with some of the other sentiments that said that they are similar to scrolls and other tactical equipment. It really depends on your gaming style: you are either a hoarder of potions and scrolls (which you end up never using because you want it for that one special moment (which most of the time you end up save scumming anyway) or you utlilize your potions and other equipment well. In a difficult setting of the game, I will definitely be using my potions, because I cannot keep going back into town for healing and returning to the dungeon.

 

Another interesting mechanic I saw was that all non-monster NPCs (wizards, thieves, guards, bandits, etc) carried potions and used them, and if you killed them before they used them all, then only a few of the potions might remain (randomly) because as they fell to their deaths the potions would shatter underneath them. I always thought that was cool.

 

TL;DR Potions are a tactical choice that can make more difficult level games manageable and fun.

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Why not give potions a half-life (i.e. use exponential decay) which determines how long they last within the body and interfere/interact with other potions? At the very least this avoids the unsightliness of cooldowns. Potion spamming might still be possible, but it would also be a less-than-optimal use of resources and thus not in the player's interest. This could also be used to implement Witcher-like notions of toxicity, but with a more flexible mix of strategic and tactical consequences.

 

For example, suppose some potion has a half-life of 10s. Immediately after imbibing the effectiveness of any new potion might be 0%, after 10s it would be 50%, after 20s 25% and so on. The computer could handle the countdown effortlessly, of course. After a minute or so this particular potion will have negligible impact on any new potions imbibed. Other potions might have a half-life of an hour or 1s, and thus have a very different impact on play. The effect of multiple potions in the body at once on future potion use could be determined in various ways, such as using the one that has decayed the least, or some mathematical combination of all those still present.

 

An alternative use for exponential decay might be an alteration of the toxicity bar from the Witcher. Each potion might increase toxicity by a given amount, and its contribution to total toxicity would decay over time based on the specific potion. The side-effects of toxicity act to prevent potion spam, while the half-life merely determines how toxicity decays rather than how effective potions are. Potions with strong strategic impact might have large toxicity and long half-lives. Potions with strong tactical impact might have large toxicity but short half-lives. Potions with low toxicity and short half-lives would be effectively spammable, but these are probably potions of limited utility.

 

Many other variants and tweaks are possible, of course.

 

Why exponential rather than linear decay? This is a common pattern in many biological systems (about 95% of drugs at therapeutic concentrations follow this pattern, although not alcohol), so although there is no requirement for the same in a fantasy world it might lend a touch of verisimilitude. More importantly, I think it makes for more interesting decision-making. For example, consider three systems which impose a penalty on the effectiveness of future potions. In the first the penalty is 100% for 10s and then drops to no penalty (effectively a cooldown). In the second the penalty starts at 100% and drops 10% per second to no penalty after 10s. In the third the penalty starts at 100% but has a half-life of 1.5s, so the penalty is approximately 1% (essentially gone) after 10s.

 

The cooldown doesn't introduce any interesting decisions. The second system introduces a meaningful trade-off, but the nature of the trade-off is constant with time. That means that it is difficult to make a trade-off that lasts a long-time without also imposing a very strong penalty on short-term use. Furthermore, in a situation where a player might want to spam potions, the most interesting tradeoffs are made if waiting a little while can provide a sufficiently large benefit. After a certain point the pressure is off and it hardly makes a difference whether the penalty on an additional potion is (for example) 20% vs. 10% anyway. A penalty with exponential decay has its largest changes in effectiveness nearest to when the last potion was used (when such changes are most likely to be interesting) and a long tail of relatively small changes that can be used to enforce long-term limits without making short-term potion use pointless.

 

Consider also the availability of potions. If they are plentiful, cheap, and useful the optimal use of the cooldown system is button mashing or otherwise using them as quickly as possible. In a system with meaningful tradeoffs this is almost certainly not true. If potions are extremely rare then there is not much difference between the three systems if the characters almost never imbibe more than one. However, in games where potions are rare there is such a strong incentive to "save them" for fights or days when they are needed that, in actual fact, on those rare cases a character wants to use a potion they probably want to use several. So whether potions are rare or not the system should probably be built to be interesting and balanced assuming multiple potions are used in a relatively short period of time. This also makes it more flexible for use in games where the actual number of potions available could vary widely due to player agency via completionist/hoarding tendencies, access to crafting, etc.

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@Gennadios and anubite

I'm not sure where everyone went with the Skyrim skill set but if you went up the alchemy skill set alongside the smithing and enchanting skill line.. lol you can break the game with the power of the potions, enchantments, and equipment improvements.

 

Thoughts on potions

-Enemy NPC with potions should be able to use them.

-Explosive type potions that are thrown at enemy should be treated as Molotov ****tails / low grade explosive with the chance that they might explode before you throw.

--NPCs should be able to pick them up / catch them in mid-air and throw them back at you if they haven't exploded yet especially high intelligent NPC with good agility.

-NPCs with the ability to feed potions to pet type mobs

-Side effects of drink potions. (Addictions, head-aches, tummy aches, pain, black-out, beserking, natural immunity)

--Do not do a cool down on potions. I'd rather have side effects than cool downs.

--The usage of multiple potions simultaneously multiplies the effects of subsequent potions but also increases the risk of adverse effects especially when consuming different types of potions.

--NPCs with low intellect or skill with potions has the possibility of ODing on potions in combat.

-The essence of potions having the possibility to use souls as a raw material.

-Invisibility potions should not work on creatures that don't use sight as a primary sense.

-Only belted (readied) potions can be consumed in combat. Digging in a pack should have multiple attacks of opportunity.

 

I'm sure there are probably more thoughts but my head is empty right now..

Edited by Aeristal
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Diablo 2 / Titan Quest potion mechanism was a good idea, it healed a certain amount of health over X time, rather than being instant.

 

I prefer that to instantly adds X amount of health. The potion has to enter your body first :p

 

I did also like The Witcher's potion tolerance system.

Edited by Sensuki
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Honestly, I rather like the idea of just leaving potions as they traditionally are. Make it so enemies can use them, too.

 

I don't like micro-managing things. And that's what all of these systems sound like. I don't want to be having to play this game with a notebook so I can keep track of what ingredients poorly interact with others, or just how much cold turkey my one character will need to break his potion addiction.

 

Which, I know, nobody has said that you'd need to do that. But, it feels like I would have to do, based on the systems. And while that does add realism, it also makes the game more work.

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Count me as someone who doesn't think the infinity engine games have terribly broken potion systems.

 

Now managing them in inventory was a bitch, especially once you accumulated lots of junk. And I pretty much never had a use for many of the set dext to 18 style potions, But give me a potion of storm giant strength any day. When you're low level they helped mitigate quest order issues and balance issues somewhat, too.

 

My one gripe is that I hate scrambling through inventory to use them, because let's face it, you never end up having the potion you want in your quick item slot. For some reason it's always buried in random character x's potion case.

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It's all a matter of game design and game testing.

I agree with the OP on most points. I mean the potions in Skyrim, what were they for? Your lab?

 

In NWN2, which I've certainly have played a lot, I think there were some potions that were well balanced: In Act I potions of cure disease and potions of cure poison were expensive, and still they could be a lifesaver. Often you were on a mission, then someone in your party got really ill, and without a potion then it was tough business. Also, the healing potions worked reasonably well in act I. I'd say that the CLW:s were too many, though.

 

I think they should be rare, expensive and when used, have an important impact on the drinker. It should be something of a last resort, and not something you chug like a drunken sailor.

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Can't say I'm a fan of how potions work in rpg's, but I still mostly disagree with OP.

 

I didn't go heavily into potions in Skyrim, because I didn't feel like investing into alchemy much (and played on easy enough so I didn't need to).

The system there doesn't revolve around a single item or potion giving you a huge bonus in anything, but the stacked effect.

Say, you go fight a dragon that can kill you with a one frosty breath. You take boots that give 20% and armor that gives 20% protection,

now you only lose 60% of your health to a single puff. Add in a well crafted potion that gives 30% and the damage you take halves,

meaning you can now survive three breathfuls of ice, making the fight from impossible to winnable. Add in a ring that gives 20% and now

you only lose 10% of your health to the breath, making the encounter a cakewalk.

 

Carry around a couple of trinkets and potions and you can always half the damage you take from a certain kind of attack.

 

But it's a different kind of system and I wouldn't like to see Eternity go that way.

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I see potions and other consumables as a way for me to moderately screw something up without having to load the game, as in this scenario:

 

Me: ooh enemies! *charge*

Rogue: There's a tr--

Trap: BOOM!

Enemies: HA-HA!

Me: *frantically chugging potions*

 

They exist to help me get through the first run on the game when I have no clue what's around the corner. On subsequent playthroughs I tend to sell them.

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I really want health and injuries to matter.

 

Healing should be serious buisness. Health shouldn't be something you can regain easily.

I actually want to see injuries being so bad that your party memebr can be out of comission for days, and you take anotehr one in his place while the first one rests.

 

Naturally, chugging health potions and being fine and dandy is contrary to that idea.

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No, thank you. Skyrim's 20% can be just the edge you need to get through an encounter--and to me micro-managing very short-term buffs on a party of six just sounds tedious. In my opinion the model of potions being something you use when you need a little extra help makes perfect sense.

 

I've never kept a finger on the potion button so your description of what "you" do doesn't match my reality. Why spam a resource with an economic cost if you can succeed without that expenditure? You know, so that you can purchase better equipment that is truly "equip and forget." There is no "players should." Obsidian needs to support a variety of playstyles and levels of familiarity with game systems and content.

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I don't see any problem with the potions in the Infinity Engine (other than what was caused by the slot based inventory system). Too be honest though, I actually like the "enter your inventory and use potions to your heart's content" from Fallout and the Elder Scrolls games. You'll still have to carry potions with you, which is limited in number, but it does allow you to deal with possible unfair and cheap encounters if you save your potions for them.

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