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Stamina and Health - a Quest for Glory perspective


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The following was not written by me.

 

 

Aeschylus said:

I'm a tad late to the party, but after giving it some thought I wanted to put in my two cents on the proposed stamina/health system. In summation, I like the *concept* of a mixed system, but I'm not crazy about the discussed implementation. To explain why, I will use as an example my favorite implementation of a combined health and stamina system; no, not Betrayal at Krondor, not Darklands, but Quest for Glory.

 

I consider QFG something of a paragon of great game design, and while it's obviously not completely analogous to a pure RPG such as PE, I think the basic lessons of how the system was implemented apply. My first relevant issue w/the PE system: Stamina and Health are too close to being the same thing. Obviously I don't know the exact specifics of the proposed system, but it sounds as if Stamina is just a slightly easier to regenerate buffer on health. Ok, fine, but why? In QFG, Stamina was a universal resource. Basically everything you did used some stamina (including getting hit), and that worked well. Health would only be lost from being hit (or doing things that would obviously damage health like falling), or if you had no stamina, anything you did would damage health. If you're going to have a dual-system, have an actual reason and separate purpose for both stats, not just that it's a solution to a meta-design problem.

 

And speaking of the primary issue here: rest scumming... QFG provides a nice guide to how to prevent it: simply don't allow it. I'm sure most people here are familiar with the system, but in QFG it went like this -- a short rest could be taken to restore a small amount of stamina and no health. You could rest for a while, but eventually you'd stop being tired, and couldn't rest. How hard would a system like that be to implement in an RPG? Not hard at all. You could only restore your health with a full night's rest, which you could only do after you became tired, not at any time. I mean, the IE games already had a fatigue system built in. If preventing rest-scumming is the primary motivation behind this system, then it should be reconsidered.

 

Finally, the question of the rate at which you can restore health/stamina. As mentioned, there was a fair bit of attrition in QFG, though nothing unmanagable. Health potions were difficult to come by (except in 2, where you could buy like a billion) and were often prohibitively expensive. All this necessitated was intelligent use of resources, not resting all the damn time. Why? Because the rest of the game was intelligently designed to make the attrition both manageable and challenging. This is what Josh Sawyer and co should be aiming for; intelligent encounter design, well dispersed resources, and a system that encourages good use of those resources.

 

Again, I'm not set against a stamina/health system, but there should be a solid design reason for having stamina as an additional resource, not just preventing excessive resting. Maybe they do have that and just haven't expanded on it yet, but just having the system for the sake of having the system and being different is lazy design. If you want to make health harder to restore, that's fine -- but having a second health stat with no other explained in-game purpose (yes, that's basically what it sounds like) is just redundant.

 

Edited by Infinitron
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Stamina is what causes you to manage your in-battle resources; it's like fatigue/bruising/minor injuries during a football game, becoming an increasingly significant factor toward the end of the match. Health is what causes you to get hauled off on a stretcher.

 

A similar approach is used in Champions and it works very well.

Edited by rjshae
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this brings back memories

The only time music broke immersion completely in that game. though the whole running on a treadmill was ridiculous enough :)

But I wanted my stamina at 500.

 

I do think the QFG games had it right on many levels. what little magic there was mattered, and no ability was useless, since you could often use multiple routes to the solution.

but more on-topic, yes, their health and stamina system was pretty good, except that you could stock up on so many health potions so cheaply that it didn't matter anyway.

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This is an excellent analysis.

 

 

I would add some points:

 

 

Irrespective of a game type, it is important that the game be balanced for all the play-styles the game allows and for those players that the game is targeting. It makes no sense to make game with (arbitrarily) hard combat for casual players (e.g. players of Farmville). Also, the game should not contain any elements that ANNOY the player, ruining his enjoyment (unnecessarily long quests like in NWN2, GATHER YOUR PARTY, trash mobs of skeletons, zombies and shadows etc).

 

 

One of the real tasks of the game designer I believe (since I am NOT a developer) would be balancing the challenge and the annoyance. It is is easy to confuse the two if one is not very bright. For example IWD2 was MEANT to be a hack and slash game with challenging combat. I had tough enemies and required smart planning of tactics before engaging in fighting or being punished for mistakes. This made playing the game satisfying.

 

 

As opposed to that NWN2 had surreptitiously large number of dungeons full of unnecessary enemies just so to find that you had to endure another dungeon to complete the main objective (Old own well anyone?).

 

 

This separation is necessary to make the game interesting. Please understand that there IS NO RESTRICTION ON THE IDEA that a hack and slash game have NO real story. In fact a well designed hack and slash game with good story is the most desirable kind of game from a general perspective. I am sure that nobody would have complained that a great game like Escape from tournament planet would only be benefited by great combat.

 

 

With this thing in mind we can discuss the system of stamina and health.

 

 

The question is, who is being addressed by this game?

 

 

Obsidian has announced that they want the IE game audience.

 

 

IE games were characteristic by good combat and great story. I am not talking about a particular mechanics like RtwP but rather the general feel of challenge provided by games like BGs and IWDs all the while experiencing great story of PST.

 

 

There is no doubt in my mind (neither should there be in yours) that these games were NOT PARAGONS OF GAMING. Yeah. Sacrilege. Bring on the stones and the sticks.

 

 

These games did suffer from numerous faults and ridding them would only improve them. "Where is the problem with such as assertion?", you ask. The problem, in my view lies in understanding that the broken mechanics (part of it) of these games was easily repairable and had no need to be replaced or removed.

 

 

A frequently cited problem of IE games is rest-spamming.

 

 

It is quite easy to realize that such problem can be quite decently solved by simply managing the combat encounters more intelligently than whining about how that is detrimental to the game. If the game is designed in a way so that the player party has to move from encounter to encounter (until you reach a safe spot) without an opportunity to rest in between, there would be no rest-spamming. Some might feel that this is too tough. Not so. It is simply made challenging by adding enough resources after every encounter that are just necessary to win the next encounter but still keeping it challenging. IWDs did this quite well. This would allow challenge (NOT frustration or annoyance) to be experienced only enhancing the game.

 

 

The second problem cited often is save-scumming:

 

 

In my view this is the strangest complaint playing a computer game. In a PnP game (to which a lot of people draw unfair comparison to cRPGs) the DM provides a flexible scaffold to play within the game, so that player misfortune (through bad die rolls) is mitigated unless he is playing terribly. A computer game is also a scaffold but a rigid one. That means good tactics but bad luck may result in losing huge lot of effort. This is solved by saving the game. If the encounters are designed as described above, there would BE NO WAY TO EXPLOIT SAVE-RELAOD system. This is a an easier and an elegent solution compared to a complete overhaul which could result in broken mechanics like so many non IE cRPG classics.

 

 

I believe that the system proposed here for stamina and health is a result of these considerations gone off track (trying to avoid rest-spamming or save-scumming). There is NO reason to get rid of a non-broken system in IE games which is simply a victim of poor design of encounters.

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Stamina is what causes you to manage your in-battle resources; it's like fatigue during a football game, becoming an increasingly significant factor toward the end of the match. Health is what causes you to get hauled off on a stretcher.

You make it sound more complicated than what we have heard so far. Aeschylus above is basically right, the current information we have makes stamina sound like health bar 2. The only resources you manage in-battle in relation to stamina are anything that buffs stamina: healing or shouts or whatever it will be. It is not like fatigue, fatigue is something that typically occurs over time regardless of what you are doing (even BG version of fatigue sounds better than stamina). When you are fatigued you have some penalty, when you have less stamina you have no penalty, just a lower health bar 2.

 

Imagine there was no stamina and you just had a health bar and you had a few different heal spells, shouts that reduced incoming damage, resistance etc. That is about the same level of resource management we have relating to stamina so why is stamina better, just because?

 

I'd like more information before I'm sold on it.

 

I believe that the system proposed here for stamina and health is a result of these considerations gone off track (trying to avoid rest-spamming or save-scumming). There is NO reason to get rid of a non-broken system in IE games which is simply a victim of poor design of encounters.

 

I agree with regard to encounters being the problem rather than the rest or save system in IE games. I don't really like the idea of saying IE games had broken rest spamming and save scumming, for the most part both systems had zero affect on players enjoyment and almost zero effect on combat. It is not like you rest spammed and could abuse combat in some way, in fact many players probably like the fact that you can press a button, wait for a load screen to pass and continue on your way. What was bad about that system apart from the fact that from an RP perspective resting for 16 days looks odd? Hardly anyone even paid attention to the rest length.

 

I don't think the system was abused. It in no way affected peoples enjoyment of the games, it was something most normal players didn't even notice. They pressed Rest and continued to enjoy banters, romances, story and combat. I think we tend to lose sight of that while discussing the functional aspects of how the system worked. Trying to fix something that might have been broken but actually had a very minor effect on peoples enjoyment seems odd.

 

Consider if the IE games would have been as successful as they have been if you could not Rest spam or "rest until healed" (which was an Option you could legitimately choose in some of the games). I'd go so far as to say that the game might have suffered from such a system, players may have felt combat was very unrewarding due to being forced to stock up continually on Healing of all forms and abandon any other spell or potion, they may even have felt the need to grind for gold to buy potions or pay for healing at temples. Gold might not have been abundant because of the cost involved in healing after every fight in order to continue (not being able to rest fully). The fights would have all been rebalanced to account for less Resting, the games would probably be very different.

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I believe that the system proposed here for stamina and health is a result of these considerations gone off track (trying to avoid rest-spamming or save-scumming). There is NO reason to get rid of a non-broken system in IE games which is simply a victim of poor design of encounters.

 

Please somebody give this gentleman a glass of best wine and the best courtesan in the country.

Absolutely agree. Do not fix game mechanics that are not broken. Fix them in-game, there are tons of options to deal with 'rest spamming' without using this strange idea of Stamina.

No to experimentation!

No to fixing that is not broken!

No to changes for the sake of change!

Do not forget basis of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment. Just put all your effort to story, fine-tuning and quality control.

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It is quite easy to realize that such problem can be quite decently solved by simply managing the combat encounters more intelligently than whining about how that is detrimental to the game. If the game is designed in a way so that the player party has to move from encounter to encounter (until you reach a safe spot) without an opportunity to rest in between, there would be no rest-spamming. Some might feel that this is too tough. Not so. It is simply made challenging by adding enough resources after every encounter that are just necessary to win the next encounter but still keeping it challenging. IWDs did this quite well. This would allow challenge (NOT frustration or annoyance) to be experienced only enhancing the game.

 

Rest spamming and save scumming were both heavily exploited in IE games because of the way magic worked in D&D. Higher level combat was so dependent on making certain spells work / not work that you had to resort to these exploits in order to overcome encounters.

 

I remember doing rest spamming a lot not because I ran out of spells / resources / health, but because I ran out of certain spells / abilities that were critical in the encounters I was facing. For example, greater restoration and mind protection spells vs. illithids whose intelligence draining hits and pisonic blasts were instant death when you didn't have those spells. It wasn't a case of just having to 'suck it up' and fight better / absorb the losses because the encounters were so punishing without these abilities that you were forced to use them.

 

Save scumming was used because of the randomness programmed into D&D spells. I used it because there were times when an enemy mage would insta kill my party with a well rolled Circle of Death / Weird and I didn't want to cast life protection on every one of my party members because - dum dum dum - I wanted to avoid rest spamming. It was also the case that certain encounters were only beatable at certain levels when you roll well. The sheer randomness of the D&D magic system is what made save scumming very useful.

Edited by Azarkon

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Rest spamming and save scumming were both heavily exploited in IE games because of the way magic worked in D&D. Higher level combat was so dependent on making certain spells work / not work that you had to resort to these exploits in order to overcome encounters.

 

 

I am not a fan of how MAGES and certain spells work in DnD. Save or Die spells in my opinion are terrible. But I disagree with other things you say. I will give you reasons. See if you think they are considerable.

 

I remember doing rest spamming a lot not because I ran out of spells / resources / health, but because I ran out of certain spells / abilities that were critical in the encounters I was facing. For example, greater restoration and mind protection spells vs. illithids whose intelligence draining hits and pisonic blasts were instant death when you didn't have those spells. It wasn't a case of just having to 'suck it up' and fight better / absorb the losses because the encounters were so punishing without these abilities that you were forced to use them.

 

 

That is the problem of save or die spells. The way that magic works in DnD is deeply flawed. Mages become exponentially powerful as the level progresses with a lot of spells that do not offer any solutions to face than lucky rolls or fortuitous availability of counterspells. This is essentially due to HIGH magic setting which makes Melee irrelevant at higher levels. I would welcome a LOW MAGIC setting, although PE is already confirmed to be High magic with magical monks that will beat monsters to death with bare hands.

 

BUT.

 

Even in such scenario, IWDs for example were excellently designed so that you could always save from a reload when dies rolled too bad against you; I actually mentioned that in the post you are quoting. Also, IWDs were LOW level DnD for most part where the party did not become OP and always plan according to what they were facing; which is exactly what tactics is; planning to adapt to conflict. Encounter design was so that only logical enemies were so powerful to resist and you were given a choice to rest before facing them, something that is not contradictory to what I said in the post; the post is about good encounter design where you SHOULD be given a choice to rest before tough encounters.

 

 

Save scumming was used because of the randomness programmed into D&D spells. I used it because there were times when an enemy mage would insta kill my party with a well rolled Circle of Death / Weird and I didn't want to cast life protection on every one of my party members because - dum dum dum - I wanted to avoid rest spamming. It was also the case that certain encounters were only beatable at certain levels when you roll well. The sheer randomness of the D&D magic system is what made save scumming very useful.

 

Again an issue of encounter design. Remember that you are playing in a scaffold. The programmer has to learn to anticipate the problems the player will face playing the game. Broken encounter design will FORCE you play unnecessarily unbalanced scenarios. Good design won't. As to random encounters; there are NO random encounters per se. There is always a system by which such encounters are generated. That system can be balanced so that it makes sense from the scenario perspective (previous encounters; available resources; resting places etc).

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...

(unnecessarily long quests like in NWN2, GATHER YOUR PARTY, trash mobs of skeletons, zombies and shadows etc).

...

As opposed to that NWN2 had surreptitiously large number of dungeons full of unnecessary enemies just so to find that you had to endure another dungeon to complete the main objective (Old own well anyone?).

 

Out of curiosity, have you played Dragon Age: Origins? I have a hard time believing any player familiar with DA would choose NWN2 as the worst example for over-padded death march quest chains.

 

OT: I don't agree with the thesis of the OP

 

QFG had advancement by skill use mechanics and the combat mechanics were action, not roll based. A player with good reflexes could literally take on hordes of goblins without taking damage. The stamina/rest mechanics were put in place to limit players on how many mobs they could fight in any given day, not to prevent rest scumming.

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...

(unnecessarily long quests like in NWN2, GATHER YOUR PARTY, trash mobs of skeletons, zombies and shadows etc).

...

As opposed to that NWN2 had surreptitiously large number of dungeons full of unnecessary enemies just so to find that you had to endure another dungeon to complete the main objective (Old own well anyone?).

 

Out of curiosity, have you played Dragon Age: Origins? I have a hard time believing any player familiar with DA would choose NWN2 as the worst example for over-padded death march quest chains.

 

 

 

Since we are on Obsidian forums, relevant and explemplary demonstrations are for their games (here or before the flood).

 

If wanted to just talk about trash mobs there are worse examples than DA:O.

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Rest spamming and save scumming were both heavily exploited in IE games because of the way magic worked in D&D. Higher level combat was so dependent on making certain spells work / not work that you had to resort to these exploits in order to overcome encounters.

 

 

I am not a fan of how MAGES and certain spells work in DnD. Save or Die spells in my opinion are terrible. But I disagree with other things you say. I will give you reasons. See if you think they are considerable.

 

I remember doing rest spamming a lot not because I ran out of spells / resources / health, but because I ran out of certain spells / abilities that were critical in the encounters I was facing. For example, greater restoration and mind protection spells vs. illithids whose intelligence draining hits and pisonic blasts were instant death when you didn't have those spells. It wasn't a case of just having to 'suck it up' and fight better / absorb the losses because the encounters were so punishing without these abilities that you were forced to use them.

 

 

That is the problem of save or die spells. The way that magic works in DnD is deeply flawed. Mages become exponentially powerful as the level progresses with a lot of spells that do not offer any solutions to face than lucky rolls or fortuitous availability of counterspells. This is essentially due to HIGH magic setting which makes Melee irrelevant at higher levels. I would welcome a LOW MAGIC setting, although PE is already confirmed to be High magic with magical monks that will beat monsters to death with bare hands.

 

BUT.

 

Even in such scenario, IWDs for example were excellently designed so that you could always save from a reload when dies rolled too bad against you; I actually mentioned that in the post you are quoting. Also, IWDs were LOW level DnD for most part where the party did not become OP and always plan according to what they were facing; which is exactly what tactics is; planning to adapt to conflict. Encounter design was so that only logical enemies were so powerful to resist and you were given a choice to rest before facing them, something that is not contradictory to what I said in the post; the post is about good encounter design where you SHOULD be given a choice to rest before tough encounters.

 

 

Save scumming was used because of the randomness programmed into D&D spells. I used it because there were times when an enemy mage would insta kill my party with a well rolled Circle of Death / Weird and I didn't want to cast life protection on every one of my party members because - dum dum dum - I wanted to avoid rest spamming. It was also the case that certain encounters were only beatable at certain levels when you roll well. The sheer randomness of the D&D magic system is what made save scumming very useful.

 

Again an issue of encounter design. Remember that you are playing in a scaffold. The programmer has to learn to anticipate the problems the player will face playing the game. Broken encounter design will FORCE you play unnecessarily unbalanced scenarios. Good design won't. As to random encounters; there are NO random encounters per se. There is always a system by which such encounters are generated. That system can be balanced so that it makes sense from the scenario perspective (previous encounters; available resources; resting places etc).

 

I agree that encounter design is a valid method for solving this problem, but encounters do not exist in a vacuum. That's all I'm saying. Avoiding all encounters with save/die spells/abilities in D&D games is a solution, but because the game has such an abundance of these spells/abilities, it's very hard to do. You have to basically remove a huge chunk of the game's monsters, spells, and abilities to make it happen. In that case, it's no longer a 'faithful' D&D game, which leads to a different set of complaints.

 

PE has the benefit of not being a D&D game, so it has the flexibility to design its own mechanics. This already solves a lot of the problems, provided the devs understand that it was D&D's magic design that caused a lot of the reloading and rest spamming that happened in the Infinity Engine games.

Edited by Azarkon

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I agree that encounter design is a valid method for solving this problem, but encounters do not exist in a vacuum. That's all I'm saying. Avoiding all encounters with save/die spells/abilities in D&D games is a solution, but because the game has such an abundance of these spells/abilities, it's very hard to do. You have to basically remove a huge chunk of the game's monsters, spells, and abilities to make it happen. In that case, it's no longer a 'faithful' D&D game, which leads to a different set of complaints.

 

PE has the benefit of not being a D&D game, so it has the flexibility to design its own mechanics. This already solves a lot of the problems, provided the devs understand that it was D&D's magic design that caused a lot of the reloading and rest spamming that happened in the Infinity Engine games.

 

If one thinks about it, DnD works perfectly fine in PnP because of the DM oversight. He can create situations where such encounters are resolvable without too much luck.

"The essence of balance is detachment. To embrace a cause, to grow fond or spiteful, is to lose one's balance, after which, no action can be trusted. Our burden is not for the dependent of spirit."

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From what I understood, the stamina/health is a bit like the SDC/HP system found in Palladium. It isn't a bad idea, can be implemented badly, but that is true of ANY system.

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Guys, what are you talking about?

Save-spamming? Save-or-die spells are bad?

 

Try newest version of XCOM and you will feel 'random death' and 'inability to save spam'. And it doesn't have any kind of save-or-die spells!

Don't like saves? Use Ironman mode.

No to experimentation!

No to fixing that is not broken!

No to changes for the sake of change!

Do not forget basis of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment. Just put all your effort to story, fine-tuning and quality control.

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Guys, what are you talking about?

Save-spamming? Save-or-die spells are bad?

 

Try newest version of XCOM and you will feel 'random death' and 'inability to save spam'. And it doesn't have any kind of save-or-die spells!

Don't like saves? Use Ironman mode.

 

I like save-reload.

 

The problem with DnD is that in computer games, the mage characters can get amazingly high DC that is basically insurmountable and sometimes requires ridiculous saves (or none if the PC is the mage). That can be good on occasions too. It becomes trouble when you have more than one such spell or have (god forbid) a spell like ability (with the enemies) who can spam it because they can use it 5 times a day.

Edited by Captain Shrek

"The essence of balance is detachment. To embrace a cause, to grow fond or spiteful, is to lose one's balance, after which, no action can be trusted. Our burden is not for the dependent of spirit."

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Could this become the "multitudes of things QfG did right" thread?

Anyway, it seems to me that the addition of stamina is in there to make in-dungeon resting superfluous. Since stamina would regen fast enough to be full-up for every encounter (well, I don't really know that for sure) and health would require going back to the inn or whatever (I dont really know that either).

Seems like a solution to those annoying moments in BG when you'd have to rest to have a chance of proceeding - backtracking is a chore, but in the wilderness you would continuously be interrupted by ambushes. Here, you'd basically be able to soldier on even with an entire party at 1 health, because the stamina would serve as a buffer?

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Try newest version of XCOM and you will feel 'random death' and 'inability to save spam'. And it doesn't have any kind of save-or-die spells!

Don't like saves? Use Ironman mode.

 

I beg to differ. A berserker pounding a squaddie into the pavement or any Chrissalid attack is a save-or-die spell right there, a touch spell. About the only thing you can do is hope against hope that your squaddie will go into trauma mode instead of outright dying. In impossible Ironman there is literally no way to survive their melee without both Carapace and Titan armor equipped, and the squaddie being an assault with the resist criticals perk, because at that range every attack is a critical.

 

The thing about Ironman modes or higher difficulties of any kind is that they drag out all of a game's balance and cheap enemy issues squirming out into the light for all to see. If the game isn't tightly balanced in such a way that the player always felt in control and could identify what went wrong specifically, it just makes the developers look bad.

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When I said that XCOM doesn't have save-or-die spells I meant that XCOM don't have spells at all.

No to experimentation!

No to fixing that is not broken!

No to changes for the sake of change!

Do not forget basis of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment. Just put all your effort to story, fine-tuning and quality control.

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What was bad about that system apart from the fact that from an RP perspective resting for 16 days looks odd? Hardly anyone even paid attention to the rest length.

I'm not sure it's odd at all. What else would you do if you're badly injured, if not rest and tend to your wounds? The only problem I see from a game perspective is that the cost is too low.

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Honestly I didn't read some of these well thought out and extensive critiques of the suggested stamina/health system but I just wanted to throw my opinion in. Bottom line: I like that they are trying to do something different with it. I think that the proposed stamina/health idea could certainly work depending on how well it is implemented and designed into the game. Maybe there is a better option out there but I am glad that they are at least looking into it. That was always a big immersion killer/annoyance for me in the old IE games, "Whew, that was a good 2 fights! I'm out of useful spells...low on health, looks like I need to rest for the next 36 hours," and poof, you are all healed and ready to go.

 

So again, maybe there is a better option or maybe the still very rough idea will be smoothly and effectively implemented...regardless I am happy that they don't want to go with the old rest spamming gameplay. I am confident that Obsidian will work out a great system, they aren't going to build such an integral part of the game into it and have it not work well.

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Could this become the "multitudes of things QfG did right" thread?

Anyway, it seems to me that the addition of stamina is in there to make in-dungeon resting superfluous. Since stamina would regen fast enough to be full-up for every encounter (well, I don't really know that for sure) and health would require going back to the inn or whatever (I dont really know that either).

Seems like a solution to those annoying moments in BG when you'd have to rest to have a chance of proceeding - backtracking is a chore, but in the wilderness you would continuously be interrupted by ambushes. Here, you'd basically be able to soldier on even with an entire party at 1 health, because the stamina would serve as a buffer?

 

Not necessarily. Attacks (some? all? I think they are still deciding) do both stamina AND health damage. So a whack with sword could do something like 10 stamina, 2 health damage. Perhaps critical hits do more health damage?

 

The two bars are set as resource management over two time periods. Stamina is per encounter, with multiple ways of protecting, enhancing and regenerating, and health is a longer, let's say per "outing" resource. The management of this resource seems to one of avoidance, as opposed to the more fluid method of stamina.

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