Let's talk magic

Discuss anything about the game itself.
Post Reply
User avatar
Haunt
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 20 2019

Let's talk magic

Post by Haunt » Mar 20th, 2019, 6:06 pm

Hello everyone, I'm Haunt. I'm new here, as you may have guessed, but I played EO wayyyyyy back in the day and my nostalgia got the better of me a few days ago. Anyway, as I sit here waiting for my health to recover from my latest skallug punching spree I figured I'd try and get a discussion started about the eventual adding of magic abilities, whether that happens tomorrow or six months down the line. Specifically, I wanted to talk about healing magic.

The first two and most easily resolved issues with healing magic are, of course, it's availability and power. If every player, regardless of build, is capable of learning a healing ability that can be used at any point in the game, there'd be no point in taking anything else in its place. It'd make every other option to fill that slot completely irrelevant, drastically limiting what builds players could use. On the other hand, if those spells became too weak after a certain point, then the exact opposite would be true and there'd be no point in bothering with them in the first place and you'd be better off just buying a stack of health potions. Thankfully, the solution for both is obvious; have a dedicated healing class. That way, healing spells and abilities can remain relevant throughout the entire game without bullying every other option out. This, however, presents a problem I consider far, far worse.

Playing as a dedicated healer is SO. FREAKING. BORING.

Of the MMO Holy Trinity of class roles (DPS, Tank, and Healer), only the DPS and tank roles are actively involved in playing. DPS characters need to find a balance between pumping out massive numbers in damage while avoiding drawing too much attention or getting hit while tanks need to find ways to stay up in the monster's face, regardless of what it might try. Healers, on the other hand, put a piece of tape on the hotkey for their best spell and then spend the entire session browsing Twitter on their phone. Occasionally they may be called upon to remove a debuff or revive an overzealous DPS player, but otherwise there is literally nothing else for them to do.

As such, a lot more modern healer roles in MMOs tend to have more hands-on abilities for buffing allies, debuffing enemies, and so on. In my experience, however, this always causes those first two problems to arise once again. Merely putting all these other abilities on traditional healers makes them overwhelming, so you'll have to lessen the efficacy of their healing or buffs to balance them out, which once again makes them not worth bothering with when potions are just as effective and not restrained by cooldowns, and just like that we've come full circle.

So what do you all think? Will dedicated healers have a place in Re:spite, or will they be shoved to the sidelines? In what ways could they be balanced to remain fun and engaging without making everything else irrelevant?

User avatar
Danno
Artist
Posts: 310
Joined: Oct 21 2017
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Let's talk magic

Post by Danno » Mar 20th, 2019, 10:34 pm

Hey there, welcome to the 2D isometric party. I'm glad you took the time to throw in some thought/feedback on the matter. I've been working on more details plans for classes/skills lately and this has been one of my concerns, as well. I don't want the healer to be completely useless/unplayable when going solo and I also don't want it to be mindnumbingly bland in a party (such as spamming all your party buffs as soon as they run out and cycling through a consistent healing pattern to keep everyone topped off).

Balance will be tricky, but my goal with it on this matter is something like:
a) Any class can borrow the healer's skills, but it won't be as effective. It should be effective enough to be worth borrowing, but not enough to render a healer useless.
b) A healer might have multiple ways of healing their allies, such as removing status ailments, reviving them, etc. A non-healer might find these skills useful to borrow, but there'd be a point where they might be borrowing too many, thus making them too inefficient at their own class. This should allow dedicated healers to maintain their usefulness (as long as the healer's role isn't easily replaced by consumable items).

For the most part, I'm leaning towards healers being dedicated by default. If they want offensive skills, they could always just pick some up from another class, then switch back to being a healer. There's the matter of balance again, but I think it should be possible to let them join in on the battle while mostly being dedicated to healing. The big question is: how to make healing itself interesting and engaging? My generic thought process on that question is:

a) The player shouldn't be standing around doing nothing - they should be involved.
b) The player should be in some danger - something should be at stake.
c) There should be variation in what the player is doing. It shouldn't be really bland and predictable.
d) Doing well should be satisfying/rewarding.

Of course, the healer's nature is to keep the party safely among the living, so that contradicts point b). Maintaining danger/challenge with a healer in the party will be another point of interest.
"I'll do the art." ~Danno 2014

User avatar
Haunt
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 20 2019

Re: Let's talk magic

Post by Haunt » Mar 21st, 2019, 2:16 pm

I'd say being able to borrow from other classes can solve both problems a) and b) you proposed at the end there, depending on what core abilities the healer class ends up with. Having healing skills with certain activation requirements could reward the player for both playing dangerously and borrowing skills from other classes to find creative ways to activate them.

Let's say a healer has access to a spell that restores a huge amount of hp, more than any other spell they currently have, but it requires that the healer be right next to the person they're trying to heal. Against normal mobs who can only target one tile at a time, this isn't an issue; the problem arises against more powerful mobs that can attack multiple tiles at once. As healers are usually pretty fragile, the player wouldn't last long if they tried to stand next to the party's tank. In order to use it effectively, then, the healer could borrow a skill that makes them bulkier from a tank class, or one that lets them dash in and out in between the enemy's attacks from a DPS class. Or, depending on how you lay out the skill borrowing mechanic, the healer could take both skills and swap between them as the situation demands, bringing some much needed variety to their kit, which would present a solution to problem c) even if it isn't a perfect or permanent fix. And, of course, mastering the use of these abilities would feel pretty satisfying for me, at least for awhile.

Though, this does bring up another potential problem. If every skill from every class is borrow-able, then the only thing separating player builds is the effectiveness of said skills. In the weekly spoiler thread you detailed the possibility that classes would have unique, non-transferable passives. Perhaps the same can be done for one or two skills? That way, each class could maintain its identity without dipping too deeply into a player's ability to choose skills from multiple classes. And, of course, more unique skills could be introduced down the line to allow for more in-class variety. All that's probably a long way off, though.

User avatar
Danno
Artist
Posts: 310
Joined: Oct 21 2017
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Let's talk magic

Post by Danno » Mar 21st, 2019, 5:54 pm

Haunt wrote:In order to use it effectively, then, the healer could borrow a skill that makes them bulkier from a tank class, or one that lets them dash in and out in between the enemy's attacks from a DPS class.
Oh, I like that example. I actually was thinking of a dashing skill like you described, which sounds like an interesting combo skill for a healer.

The goal of giving the healer some danger could also be partially met by another idea I had (and spoiled) - a healer staff weapon that can be used to heal allies with default attacks. The line of thinking there is that it doesn't make much sense to give every class the same 1 tile default physical attack when certain class aren't physical attack oriented; the default attack should be something each class would have some reason to use. Anyway, the healing staff might not consume MP (or might consume 1 MP), so healing adjacent allies could be a good way to conserve MP and be engaged in the middle of the battlefield.

Regarding unique, unborrowable skills for classes, it is indeed something that will need to be approached carefully. The worst case scenario would be that each class has one outstanding skill that basically defines the class' gameplay, making it easy for a player to fit all the best skills into one build. Ideally, taking one or two skills from another class shouldn't be enough to render that other class obsolete.

For example, if a warrior borrows a healer's "cure" and "revive" spells, a dedicated healer would still be useful in the party due to:
-Healer might have more MP available to cast such spells; faster MP recovery rate, more max MP, less MP used on skills to kill enemies.
-Healer's "cure" spell would be more effective, making it more MP efficient for long adventures.
-A warrior might be too busy in battle to heal allies in a desperate situation whereas a healer would be more on the ball with that sort of thing.
-Rather than everyone in the party having "cure" and "revive" just in case, having a healer lets other party members free up those skill slots for something more useful.

A healer's role is more obviously distinct from other classes, though. I think the healer doesn't need to have unborrowable skills to secure their position on the team, but that might be a more delicate matter for other classes. My ideal vision allows full freedom with skill borrowing, but yeah, certain limits might be necessary to ensure the classes maintain some identity (such as the passives).


PS: Nothing is concrete yet, some of this stuff will depend on what Abi has to say about the coding of certain skills and such. This includes stuff like a dashing skill and a healing staff weapon.
"I'll do the art." ~Danno 2014

User avatar
Haunt
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 20 2019

Re: Let's talk magic

Post by Haunt » Mar 23rd, 2019, 1:22 am

Danno wrote: PS: Nothing is concrete yet, some of this stuff will depend on what Abi has to say about the coding of certain skills and such. This includes stuff like a dashing skill and a healing staff weapon.
Yeah, I figured. I've been hesitant to suggest anything more complex than a dash, since I'd doubt they'd be easy to code. I can almost hear Abi's eyes rolling farther and farther back every time something gets suggested.

I'm willing to bet that classes will be rather simple when they're first introduced into the game and won't have more than one or two basic abilities as proof-of-concept; trying to do much beyond that might be a tad ambitious. But, there's no harm in spitballing ideas early. Even if nothing suggested gets implemented, it might simplify matters down the line.


I really like the healing staff weapon idea---the image of healing someone by whacking them upside the head is too good---as well as finding a use for the basic attack for all classes. A lot could probably be done with giving certain weapons unique attributes to get healers more involved in combat; for instance, one could apply a mark every ten attacks or so for a few seconds, and allies who attack the marked enemy get a bit of health back. Though, it may also detract from player customizability if one ability turns out to be more powerful than others at the same level. And, as you stated earlier, it may not be so simple to program.

On the subject of skill borrowing, being able to borrow every skill from other classes sounds like it'd be amazing, especially in creating varying builds to give each player their own identity beyond cosmetics. It is, however, an unfortunate fact of MMOs that each class needs to fit into a particular role; one can't pick a frontline warrior and expect to spend each session flinging fireballs from the back when a mage can do it more efficiently. Classes can most certainly fill multiple roles, of course. That same warrior could function as a tank if he builds one way, or as a damage-dealer if he builds another, or even play as a bruiser-type that can swap between doing both as the situation demands, but the class would need to have its own distinct advantages and disadvantages to stand out as a choice against other classes that could build to fill the same role, like through the passives idea. Without such things, there may as well not be a traditional class system at all, with any “classes” being entirely player-designed based on skill choices.

But, that's really just my opinion. I've no actual experience with balancing a game, so all I can really offer are the thoughts of a player, and those are far from unbiased.

Post Reply