Author Topic: Design Notes: New Mana System  (Read 3549 times)

Offline x4000

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Design Notes: New Mana System
« on: December 01, 2011, 01:18:07 PM »
This thread is taking over from this original one, so I'm locking the original one and moving it to the main AVWW forum.  If you have further thoughts or want to quote something from the original thread here, feel free -- the locking is about trying to keep the current conversation all in one place, not about trying to stifle any opinions.

THE POLL RESULTS ARE IN
-----------------------

We had 22 voters, and there was a clear preference for the "Hybrid Mana Recharge And Mana-As-Ammo" mana redesign, which was also my favorite when I made the OP in the original thread.  However, despite almost half of the votes going to that specific design: 1) over half of them did NOT go to that design, and 2) a great many people voted for that design and then wrote in with changes and tweaks that they thought it should have for actual implementation.

The poll was still hugely good feedback for me, though, as were the comments on the poll thread.  Now it's time to codify all that feedback, and my own thoughts, into a concrete design to implement, though, and hence this thread.

ABOUT AMMO
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Some form of ammo system recieved a vote in 14 out of the 22 votes.  However, I think the reason a lot of people voted for that was because they -- like I -- wanted to be able to see spells that were extremely powerful but yet which come with an extremely high cost.  That said, a lot of other folks pointed out how cumbersome (and psychologically difficult in terms of hoarding, etc) an ammo system would be.

I felt like that was still the lesser of two evils, though, until Olreich pointed out a much better broad alternative which lets us get those mega-spells (with appropriate opportunity costs) without having to have ammo.  His comments are spread out over several posts, starting with this one, and are well worth a read if you were wanting ammo and want to know why we're dropping it: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,9531.msg87881.html#msg87881

THE ACTUAL DESIGN (DIFFERENCES FROM CURRENT DESIGN)
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Potions:

Mana potions and mana scrolls are completely removed from the game.  Any mana potions or scrolls currently in your inventory (or which were previously seeded into the world) will still remain, but they will have only a very small temporary boosting effect on your mana and won't be very worthwhile.  And you won't be finding (or able to craft) any more after those are used up.  Nor will you really care, really, I don't think. 

Any form of mana potions that you'd collect in the world, or periodically craft, are something I want to stay away from now, I should note.  The reason for this is that it's Yet Another Thing To Collect And Keep Track Of, and players who want to min/max will view them as required, not optional.  Having interesting things to collect is fine, but having things that are a pain to collect, or even just monotonous to repeatedly collect, while in the interest of min/maxing, is not a good thing in my book.  Once again I'll trot out the Knowledge Raiding example from AI War.

Mana Recharge:

Mana fully recharges from 0 mana to full mana over the course of maybe 30 seconds for an average character (but character stats would cause this rate to vary).  Mana recharges constantly, NOT just when your character isn't using spells that cost mana.  Thus there's never a period where you just have to sit around and wait to get more mana because you've been casting too many spells.  But at the same time you definitely have a max throughput, so you're unable to just spam the really powerful spells and might have some downtime if you're trying to use a lot of them in a sequence.

You'll note that the time period of recharge increased since the recharge is always happening rather than just when you're not firing.  And the idea of standing still to recharge faster is also gone, for much the same reason.

Cooldowns:

Uber-powerful spells that would be implemented will have a really long cooldown to offset their being constantly spammed.  BUT, spells in general are able to have multiple cooldown types simultaneously, as you might have noticed.  So not only would an Uber Powerful spell have a longer-than-average cooldown that affects other offensive spells of its same color, it would also have an Uber Powerful type of cooldown that would be EVEN LONGER (perhaps minutes at a time, even) and which would affect other uber powerful spells -- offensive, defensive, whatever. 
The design there is really flexible, so we can come up with really interesting cooldown intersections that can be really specific to groups of spells, or really broad to various classes of spells, or even both at once.  That really gets into individual spell design, but there's a really healthy amount of flexibility there to add a lot of opportunity costs in whatever ways we later see fit to, in other words.

BUT that's not enough for all kinds of uber-powerful (or even very-high-powerful) spells to be balanced.  This just would encourage waiting around.  Go in, attack the boss with Uber-X, leave for a while until the cooldown is gone, then come back, attack with Uber-X, go away and do something else (get a coke even)... yuck.  So the cooldown stuff for uber-powerful spells is mostly just a mild deterrent, and if playtesting reveals that we should just stick with regular cooldowns for them then we might even do that.

But I think that cooldowns that are heavier for the uber spells will prevent them from being spammed against smaller enemies -- though higher MP costs that make the mana recharge take longer might already accomplish that on their own, making the cooldowns on that part moot.

Also?  Currently cooldowns aren't saved when you save and then reload your game, which would of course have to change.

Other Consequences For Powerful Spells:

This will vary by spell to spell, from light consequences to heavier ones.  And these are entirely tactical consequences in the main, adding flavor to boss fights in particular, rather than adding prep time in the form of ammo collection.

For example, if you use Uber Entropy Spell on an enemy, the consequence might be that they then get full immunity to further entropy attacks.  Or it might be that you get some sort of entropy drain effect applied to you.  Or it might kill a random NPC from your last town, sucking out their life to attack the boss.  Or some piece of land from your current continent might sink into the sea from the magical strain.

Here again, the name of the game is flexibility: whatever the powerful spell does, there can be some sort of equally powerful opportunity cost that is custom to it and really unique and interesting for that spell.  Which, when it comes to uber powerful spells, that's what it should be, right?  Unique and interesting, and something that makes you think about the unique consequences rather than just spamming it and then chugging an elixer.

Spells Scrolls:

Spell scrolls are going to be removed for the sake of simplicity, instead becoming spell scrolls, and they would be balanced like any other spellgems in terms of having cooldowns and mana costs that make them quicker or slower to use repeatedly.  Gem dust also would be removed, going along with this.

Outfitter Crafting:

Vaguely related to this, so I'll mention it here: the Outfitter crafting is also going to go away.  The sorts of consumable things that you'd craft there will instead be things that you'll be able to collect out in the world.  That keeps the crafting simpler for new players, gives you some (optional, interesting) things to go out and collect in the world and find in stashes instead of mana/health potions, and so on.  Stuff that was at the outfitter, like snowsuits or heatsuits, you'll now have to scavenge or find through side-quests instead.  This gives us another way to set up interesting incentives for growing your personal power instead of he

Elemental Combo System:

Next to the current mana indicator on the HUD, there would be three different elemental icons that represent the last three spell elements that you've used.  Each spell has one and only one element associated with it.

The order of the three elemental icons wouldn't matter, but how many match the element of your current spell would have a big effect:
- If zero of the icons match your spell, there's no effect.
- If one of the icons match your spell, your spell gets something like a 10% bonus, but also a 5% increase to cooldown time.
- If two of the icons match your spell, your spell gets something like a 40% bonus, but also a 20% increase to cooldown time.
- If all three of the icons match your spell, your spell gets something like a 40% bonus, but also a 100% increase to cooldown time, and all the icons in the bar get cleared.
- If all three of the icons are different, but one of them matches the spell, then you get a 50% bonus to the spell and 0% extra increase to cooldown time on it.

Thus you're encouraged to do two or three hits with one element before switching to another one, or to do chains of three elements with a "finisher" that is matching one of the three in the chain.  But it's not a hugely complex system, or something that new players would neccessarily have to understand instantly.


Update: Cutting the elemental combo system for now, as it has a few flaws and exploits that need to be figured out before we are able to implement something along these lines.

Credits for various parts of this idea: Keith LaMothe, Josh Knapp, Toll, Penumbra, Hearteater, TNSe, Olreich, Martyn van Buren


So... further thoughts?  What is this missing, if anything?
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 11:29:47 AM by x4000 »
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Offline Dizzard

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 01:39:48 PM »
For example, if you use Uber Entropy Spell on an enemy, the consequence might be that they then get full immunity to further entropy attacks.  Or it might be that you get some sort of entropy drain effect applied to you.  Or it might kill a random NPC from your last town, sucking out their life to attack the boss.  Or some piece of land from your current continent might sink into the sea from the magical strain.

Not sure I like this....but it might be more from a gamestyle side of things than an actual game design point of view.

I just wouldn't like to be in the situation where I'm murdering my own people just to get ahead.

Plus I think a lot of people would be afraid the npc they left in town that has all the bonus buffs attached  to them or an npc they just generally feel attached to themselves would end up dying. Or even worse they might not realize the spell will kill an npc and go completely trigger happy.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 01:47:09 PM »
So not only would an Uber Powerful spell have a longer-than-average cooldown that affects other offensive spells of its same color, it would also have an Uber Powerful type of cooldown that would be EVEN LONGER (perhaps minutes at a time, even) and which would affect other uber powerful spells -- offensive, defensive, whatever.
Just remember not to have a cooldown longer than the length of time you find it acceptable for a player to think that "standing still and waiting" is the best choice, probably while standing next to the door that leads to the next big boss :)

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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 01:56:14 PM »
I designed some resource systems for a theoretical MMO a bit ago and the mana system might have one (maybe two) useful features to appropriate:

What if instead of a fixed time to recharge mana of 30 seconds from 0% to 100% and therefor 15 seconds from 50% to 100%, the recharge rate got worse the lower your mana.  So it would still be 30 seconds from 0% to 100%, but only 10 seconds from 50% to 100%.  And maybe only 2 seconds from 80% to 100%.  This would mean you can dump your entire mana bar for good burst, but for better long term DPS you want to pause briefly between casts to regen back to full.  This also means high mana cost spells have a much larger effect.

As a separate consideration, and probably incompatible with the elemental combo system, I had a Volatility system.  Each time you used a spell it got 1 Volatility charge that showed up on its icon on the hotbar.  Volatility charges stacked up to 3, and lasted 10 seconds.  Getting a new charge reset the 10 second duration.  Once the 10 seconds was up, all the charges were removed from that spell.  Each charge increased the effectiveness (like damage) by 15%, but increased the mana cost by 20%.  Once a spell had 3 Volatility charges it could no longer be cast and you had to wait until the charges expired.  So chain casting a spell let you do it at most 3 times in a row, for 100% damage, 115% damage and 130% damage, costing 100% mana, 120% mana and 160% mana.  Remember also mana recharge gets worse the lower your mana got, so the mana cost increases are very noticeable.

Offline x4000

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 03:32:39 PM »
For example, if you use Uber Entropy Spell on an enemy, the consequence might be that they then get full immunity to further entropy attacks.  Or it might be that you get some sort of entropy drain effect applied to you.  Or it might kill a random NPC from your last town, sucking out their life to attack the boss.  Or some piece of land from your current continent might sink into the sea from the magical strain.

Not sure I like this....but it might be more from a gamestyle side of things than an actual game design point of view.

I just wouldn't like to be in the situation where I'm murdering my own people just to get ahead.

Plus I think a lot of people would be afraid the npc they left in town that has all the bonus buffs attached  to them or an npc they just generally feel attached to themselves would end up dying. Or even worse they might not realize the spell will kill an npc and go completely trigger happy.

Sorry, those were meant to be three different examples, not "something random and bad would happen."  A specific spell in question might ALWAYS murder an NPC when used, or else it NEVER would.  The point of this system isn't random bad consequences, it's opportunity cost.  Knowing your affinity for NPCs, you'd simply never use one of those evil spells.  And that was really just a random example of things we could do anyhow, the first two examples were a lot more short-term in terms of the sort of other costs I'd want to do.  But if we had some sort of truly epic spell that was insanely hard to get, etc, etc, etc, (Knights of the Round type thing), then the consequences could move beyond the tactical.

So not only would an Uber Powerful spell have a longer-than-average cooldown that affects other offensive spells of its same color, it would also have an Uber Powerful type of cooldown that would be EVEN LONGER (perhaps minutes at a time, even) and which would affect other uber powerful spells -- offensive, defensive, whatever.
Just remember not to have a cooldown longer than the length of time you find it acceptable for a player to think that "standing still and waiting" is the best choice, probably while standing next to the door that leads to the next big boss :)

Yeah, this is true.  I was also tempted to make it so that maybe cooldown doesn't continue if you've been standing still for more than about 10 seconds, to also combat this. :)

What if instead of a fixed time to recharge mana of 30 seconds from 0% to 100% and therefor 15 seconds from 50% to 100%, the recharge rate got worse the lower your mana.  So it would still be 30 seconds from 0% to 100%, but only 10 seconds from 50% to 100%.  And maybe only 2 seconds from 80% to 100%.  This would mean you can dump your entire mana bar for good burst, but for better long term DPS you want to pause briefly between casts to regen back to full.  This also means high mana cost spells have a much larger effect.

That sort of "don't overdo it" approach really can work well, I'll have to look at that.  It could be that it's 60 seconds if it's literally from 0, and then a lot less when it's lower percentages, which would penalize too much spamming of mid-power stuff.
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 03:44:53 PM »
As long as the boss regenerates enough health when not under attack waiting on long cooldowns is a losing strategy.

Offline Gallant Dragon

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 03:48:15 PM »
This is absolutely fascinating, and breaks the mold nicely.  It'll need a lot of playtesting, though.
It's just carriers all the way down!

Offline Hearteater

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 04:12:31 PM »
As an additional note on making mana regen lower the lower your current mana percentage, that also makes increasing a characters base mana pool much more useful even by only small amounts because it means your regeneration rate doesn't drop off as fast.  Similar to health tanks multiplying base health's effectiveness.

Offline Bluddy

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2011, 04:17:54 PM »
I'm not sure how well time based penalties (cooldowns) work in a game that doesn't press you for time. Perhaps all enemies should regenerate health to give some urgency to your attacks? This creates a counter incentive to waiting around for cooldowns to end, and a reason to use powerful spells despite their cost.

The combo system sounds fun but I'll reserve my judgement until I see it in action. I think I'd rather see the system I outlined in the previous thread, where enemies have layers of resistance shields that are best tackled by varying the attack to match the layers or finding original ways of attacking (such as lifting up the enemy with a telekinesis spell and attacking from below). In other words, I'd rather the bonus for varying spells be in tackling challenges than in using a set combo system (which I suspect may become monotonous -- everyone will just adjust to firing the sequence required for a combo).

Offline FallingStar

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2011, 06:58:09 PM »
Its such a big change in the way we use our tools (spells) I almost think I'll have to try it to see how it feels.  So long as I'm not leaving rooms to wait for regeneration or standing around a lot I think it will be good.  Even so, I guess with the old system I sometimes left boss rooms to wait for my potion timer to cooldown, so anything is an improvement there.

I do like the idea of big spells having additional side effects possibly outside battle, just seems interesting and not something I've seen much in other similar types of games.

One thought on the combo system, perhaps I'm misreading it -- am I right about the only way its being cleared is if all 3 elements in the bar are the same, otherwise just the most recent 2 are retained and a 3rd blank spot opens up?  If so, in boss battles or the like just alternating between red+ green (for example) would soon mean that every shot got the finisher bonus (red+green + red(bonus) -> green+ red (bonused earlier)+ green (bonus) => red(bonused earlier)+ green(bonused earlier) + red (bonused) etc.  ).  Since I already often just hold down two buttons for a boss battle to avoid the regen timer, getting a special combo bonus on every shot for doing that seems a bit off.  Of course I could be totally wrong how its working.

On the flipside I do worry that any casting pattern based system needs to have only a few items to combo, since its a bit tough to alternate between more than that for standard mouse users, and for a keyboard user I'd think it would be a nightmare to move/dodge while patterning out spells.  I'd almost rather set them up another way, in a pattern on the quickbar or whatever or in a special combo slot somewhere.

Anyways, its all good, will just have to see how it goes in practice, just my small worries and perhaps confusions as I read up the new design ideas.

Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2011, 01:27:14 AM »
Perhaps the elemental combo system wants to be tailored a bit to individual spells?  Say, only applying to middle-range spells, so small ones don't give you the counters and big ones aren't affected by it.  Basically, I think it would be a bit silly if I need to remember to use a couple of fire touch spells before I cast ULTRA FIRE. 

Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2011, 01:33:20 AM »
Sorry, another question --- are there some thoughts on what's going to be inside of ordinary buildings after this?  If we're eliminating scrolls, mana potions, gem dust, exp, and shards, it'll be down to traps, platforms, (if they survive redesign) health potions.  Which will still mean needing to go inside once in a while, but will bring back that feeling of emptiness.  Which would be a great shame, given how they're shaping up with furniture and player-designed rooms in place.

Offline Nenad

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2011, 04:43:30 AM »
I saw the previous topic and it's too long, I didn't read it, but I have an idea I like, and I hope it wasn't mentioned yet.

I did read the "MANA RECHARGE DIFFERENCES FROM CURRENT DESIGN" part and it sparked an idea where you said
Quote
2. When players use higher-tier spells, they're doing more damage at a cost of more mana-regen time.  That takes some of the visceral fun out of having that higher-tier spell in the first place, doesn't it?  A possible solution would be to make mana costs of spells not adjust by tier, up or down.

Now, the problem was the powerful spells don't feel so powerful/unique/whatever since you just have a cooldown. This is where my idea comes in. You need special runes (or similar) that you find in the world (either all over place or special magic places) for the most uber of the uberspells. You could say I picked this idea from Runescape. Oh, and all other spells just go on as usual, cooldown + regenerable mana, no runes.  :D

Offline superking

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 06:05:19 AM »
If I can make a suggestion, Mana recharge being inversely proportional to how much mana you have stored might work well (ie, the fuller your mana bar the slower it fills). that way, players could clutch fire weak spells even on minimal mana, but would have to be out of combat for a minute to fully charge the bar (thus, very mana intensive spells become difficult to cast more than once in a fight)

Offline zebramatt

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Re: Design Notes: New Mana System
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2011, 07:12:20 AM »
Well there's certainly a lot to it!