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Characters, Skills, Etc.  » A case for non-regenerative values

10 posts found
  Mendel

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 615

 
OP  10/21/13 7:59:21 PM#1

Pretty much all MMORPGs have some form of regenerative values representing parts of the character.  Hit points and mana are the most common forms, but this includes any value that replenishes itself over time.   This can include endurance, fatigue, energy or a dozen other synonyms.

But what about a stat that doesn't automatically regenerate?  Is there a use for these type of systems in an MMORPG?  I think there might be.  The fundamental concept behind a value that doesn't regenerate is any thing that is expended once, and must be earned.  In effect, the character needs to do something in-game in order to build their pool, something non-combat related.

Many games already have similar ideas in place, with special currencies for special vendors, or harvesting resources for crafting.   The concept I'm envisioning here is one where there are known activities, quests, etc. that are used to gather the resources that are expended in 'normal manner'. i.e., casting a spell, interacting with an NPC, etc.

Some possible types of non-regenerative values.

  • Mana is a good candidate for a non-regenerative value.  The concept is that the energy used to create a spell must be gathered in another manner (ingesting magic herbs, visiting special places, etc.)
  • Faction could be used like a currency to 'purchase' special benefits, but then the character must earn more favor to repeat the benefit or purchase additional benefits.
  • Piety could be a religious counterpart to mana representing favor with a god.  The god accepts piety in exchange for miracles.  The character regains piety by praying to the gods or participating in religious festivals.
Possible benefits of a non-regenerative value.
  • Additional activities to generate / earn these values must be added to the game.   These could broaden game play from strictly a combat-focused affair.
  • Extra time spent performing activities is more time for socialization and role-playing.
  • The need to prepare before adventuring keeps the magic from being simply a fantasy weapons technology.
Even with a non-regenerative mana value, it is possible to have a maximum capacity to prevent the level 1 wizard from gathering mana for a month, then burning their way to max level.  Granted, having expendable points like this might be more appropriate for a game focusing on a low-tech (low-magic) setting.  I had hoped to have ways to transfer mana from one player to another, so even the front-line infantry would benefit from storing some mana, even if they couldn't use it directly.
 
The key to making a system like this palatable to players would be the 'fun' factor these new activities would have.  MMORPGs already have time sinks galore, this would just be another.
 
Ideas?  Thoughts?  Questions?

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  Superman0X

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/28/06
Posts: 962

10/21/13 8:04:49 PM#2
Well, this has been done (to varying extents) in different games. One example would be Everquest (1). Mana did not regenerate quickly in combat, the player had to sit (with spellbook open) and meditate for it to regenerate. This created a non combat requirement as part of standard combat, players would take breaks to recover.. and socialize.
  Dauntis

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 10/21/09
Posts: 425

10/21/13 8:24:09 PM#3

I have played games that required spell components... Which is pretty much what you are talking about, something that doesn't replenish that fuels abilities. I think ultimately this type of system is just a blockade to fun, it is something game companies do to force you to expend more time in their game. Doing something like this to a certain set of classes or spellcasters is kind of crappy when you have in comparison warriors who can swing their swords all day long and not require gathering bone chips and herbs to do so and rendering people who don't have the time to farm materials unable to play a spellcaster because without the farmed mats they are completely useless.

So yes flavor wise maybe, or side game idea sure, but I think would hinder overall playability and balance.

I would like to give an opinion on this post, but if I agree I will offend people who disagree. While if I disagree my comment will be seen as inflammatory. Either way I will get banned by this site full of the most delicate flowers in online gaming. Ban people for giving honest opinions... beautiful. Unfortunately I still like the articles.

  PerfArt

Novice Member

Joined: 2/16/13
Posts: 863

10/21/13 9:58:37 PM#4

I like the idea of non-regenerative values. It potentially adds a more serious emphasis on resource management and, if done correctly, could make certain abilities feel more 'meaningful.' Spell components for mana and the like are all well and good, but what about using resource management to encourage socialization and teamwork?

Say you have a number of classes (or if not classes, a number of special abilities, only one of which can be chosen by any one character.) There could be multiple types of non-regenerative values based on these roles or classes. Melee types could have a Heroic pool or something, while casters could have a Powers pool (or a Miracle pool as said above, for priest types) etc. Some classes have Subterfuge pools for stealth or poison, while others, like hybrids, can choose from the above accordingly. Summoning specialist? Easy, you have a separate summoning pool. 

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like this in a skill-based or freeform, build-your-own-class system. The type of non-replenishing value ability you choose could kind of define your role and allow for unique combinations while limiting the most powerful abilities of any one character by way of scarcity. If you really wanted to be harsh or gritty, you could make ALL special abilities governed by these pools and thus make running out of steam a very possible thing quickly.

Anyway, let's say that every character also has a non-replenishing "Synergy" pool that allows them to take certain heroic, selfless, or creative action to replenish a DIFFERENT non-replenishing pool of someone else. Just ONE type. A warrior who can spend some Synergy to do much less damage with every attack, but transfers some of that difference to an caster's power pool? Why not? A light tank or rogue who turns the potential damage of every evaded/dodged attack into some replenishment for a tank's Hero pool? Sure as long as that replenishment also depletes the evader's Synergy pool. Perhaps a compassionate missionary believes in giving the wicked a second chance and can replenish Stealth/Murder pools by physically taking damage themselves. There are tons of possibilities. Toggling critical hits to replenish allies instead of doing critical damage, lowering your own resistance to CC to HoT a target pool for the duration of said CC, etc. This makes everyone buffers and everyone potential destroyers depending on your group setup and how you want to manage your replenishment actions while still worrying about things like getting rolled.

And thats just in battle. Once the Synergy pool is depleted, one can lo longer replenish anyone's pool. Synergy pools could be replenished out of combat, by way of some of the methods detailed in posts before this (components, prayer, meditation, special potions.) That way, you can have the flavor of spell components, prayers,  meditation, etc, for non-combat replenishment and social methods for the heat of battle.

Who knows. I am just musing to muse.

http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/PerfArt

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12094

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

10/22/13 12:12:36 AM#5
Originally posted by Mendel

Pretty much all MMORPGs have some form of regenerative values representing parts of the character.  Hit points and mana are the most common forms, but this includes any value that replenishes itself over time.   This can include endurance, fatigue, energy or a dozen other synonyms.

But what about a stat that doesn't automatically regenerate?  Is there a use for these type of systems in an MMORPG?

 
Ideas?  Thoughts?  Questions?

They're rare in modern MMOs because players didn't want them. In older MMOs they were very common. For example:

  • EVE: structure, ammo
  • WOW: durability, ammo
  • UO: durability, reagents, ammo
  • AC: spell components, tapers, ammo

I

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fovoroth

  Mendel

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 615

 
OP  10/22/13 9:07:27 AM#6
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by Mendel

Pretty much all MMORPGs have some form of regenerative values representing parts of the character.  Hit points and mana are the most common forms, but this includes any value that replenishes itself over time.   This can include endurance, fatigue, energy or a dozen other synonyms.

But what about a stat that doesn't automatically regenerate?  Is there a use for these type of systems in an MMORPG?

 
Ideas?  Thoughts?  Questions?

They're rare in modern MMOs because players didn't want them. In older MMOs they were very common. For example:

  • EVE: structure, ammo
  • WOW: durability, ammo
  • UO: durability, reagents, ammo
  • AC: spell components, tapers, ammo

I

 

That was a concern of mine, too, that players didn't want these types of abilities.  EQ1 had its ammo, too -- I had overlooked that as a non-replenishing value.

But why are these types of values rare?  Is it that the players disliked them, or because they didn't fit the nature of the game?  Mana is the most widespread form of a potential non-regenerative value, but it's almost universally implemented as a regenerating value.  Is this because the developers wanted magic to be plentiful (weapons-tech) and they didn't have a similar reason to slow down melee-dependent characters?

When you look at an MMORPG, the average game day lasts for about 40 minutes in real time.  Even so, players can put their characters in life-or-death fights over 100 times in that game day.  That's the 'normal' game play, not because it reflects reality, but because there's little else to do.  No sane person would put themselves in harms way that often without an intervention from friends, family and mental health care professionals.  Games have been designed to be all flash and fizzle; the downhill race without ever riding up the lift hill on the roller coaster.   I think the vast mana pools and mana regeneration are the results of keeping the caster able to keep up the pace with the warriors.

I think a developer that actually wants a slower paced game could successfully utilize a series of non-regenerative values (and a series of interesting means to 'charge' these values) to help slow down the mad melee frenzy.

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  Scalpless

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/22/07
Posts: 1273

10/22/13 9:27:29 AM#7

I don't want to look aggressive, but IMO this is the problem:

Originally posted by Mendel

Possible benefits of a non-regenerative value.

  • Additional activities to generate / earn these values must be added to the game.   These could broaden game play from strictly a combat-focused affair.
  • Extra time spent performing activities is more time for socialization and role-playing.
  • The need to prepare before adventuring keeps the magic from being simply a fantasy weapons technology.

In most old MMOs non-regenerative values were used exactly as you describe: to prolong downtime, support lore and make some activities meaningful. Unfortunately, all of these goals suck. They're boring. They don't make gameplay any better. They don't add strategy. Usually, the "lore" goal backfires, too, because carrying 999 arrows around just isn't very lore-friendly. They're just there to annoy the players. If gathering Blue Leaves is boring, making it mandatory for every caster won't make the activity any better.

There are examples of non-regenerative resources done right, however. One that comes to mind immediately is Dark Souls. It's full of these resources and doesn't let you stockpile them. You get some health potions whenever you visit a checkpoint. Wasted all of them? Too bad. You can go back and get more, but that'll cause all monsters to respawn. Spells work similarly. There's an unusual resource called Humanity that makes you stronger, but you lose it upon death and can only get it back via a corpse run. However, if your first corpse run fails, that Humanity is lost forever, along with any of your unspent XP.

This makes the game more tactical. You become wary of wasting health and spells. You wonder if carrying Humanity around is a good idea. At the same time, it's not annoying. You don't have to do things you don't want to in order to get your potions back. It's a good system and one of the reasons why the Souls franchise has been successful.

  Mendel

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 615

 
OP  10/22/13 9:33:34 AM#8
Originally posted by PerfArt

<snip>.

The precursor P&P system to my 2002 design had a pool similar to your Synergy.  I called my Fate.   It allowed players to force a GM re-roll or give a specific result on their rolls.   I eventually removed this value because I couldn't plausibly justify a means to replenish this at the players initiative -- there was nothing the players could do to increase their Fate.  The players didn't treat this as a resource to be hoarded -- after one fight, their Fate was all gone.  (Give a player a way to avoid a bad result, even a marginally bad result, and they'll over-use it).

My Fate system was pitched the next week and not used after that.  (Not that it really mattered, all the characters had 0 Fate by then).

It might be possible to tie some types of non-recurring values to player accomplishments rather than specific actions.  For instance, maybe my Fate would work as part of a Level advancement.  (Gain +3 Fate).  My system didn't have character levels.  I could also see a non-recurring value tied to a random event, like rolling a 30 on 3d10.  That would probably have been the way I would have gone, as XP was tied to the number of 10s rolled (on a single die) in the course of normal game play.  (FYI, all my dice rolls were 3d10, a very steep bell curve).

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  ghstwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/08
Posts: 386

2/04/14 7:36:29 AM#9

Non-regenerative values aren't inherently a bad idea, but they are easy to get very wrong.

They are a logical fit for ranged and magic classes but not so much for pure melee classes.  That is a bad situation and fairly poor design unless the leveling/growth curve is accelerated for those classes, but this is counter to why it is typically included (ie to be a timesink that slows progression).

The mistaken belief that this will encourage socialization.  Timesinks don't, seriously get that out of your head.  All you are doing is forcing people to waste time on an activity (no matter how "fun") when they would rather do something else.  99% of players will rush through that activity, or afk a "be here" type of thing (take a shower/cook some food).  Maybe it did promote social activities at the very beginning, back before any game with an audience had a massive wiki and in-game chat was the effective way to learn stuff about the game, but those days are gone.

Lore and tactical play- please.  Everyone carries a ton of what they use, and there is no meaningful counter. For ha-has, back when WoW had ammo by the stack, each stack would weigh ~10lbs (converting slightly better than .308, 12 guage would be closer to the black powder of their tech and come in at about 20lbs/stack).  Carry limitations simply won't work, believe it or not the 80 lb combat load (even heavily armored knights didn't exceed 100) hasn't changed in millenia, well accept in games where 150lb+ is almost a minimum  requirement.

Overall, what you are trying to do with these non-regenerative values has and will always suck.  It might be OK for once-a-day alpha abilities in combat (4-6 hr cooldown stuff), or maybe for slightly more common non-combat uses (like spending faction rep/currency).  But the more combat integrated uses need a very different tactic.  I'd rather someone remove the gathering time sink from the core game entirely (or nearly so), and put that into a format where that is the "game".  Pick your "facebook game" poison, they come with a million advantages over doing most gathering activities in-game.

  Barrikor

Novice Member

Joined: 12/06/07
Posts: 317

2/04/14 12:16:57 PM#10

(IHMO) I don't think "Non-regenerative values" is quite the right terminology for it.

An event happens and the value regenerates by a set amount.


Both time passing, and finishing a quest are events. It's still "regenerating" even if Time isn't what the event is.

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