Alternate stat methods
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Baeran



Joined: 16 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 3:21 am    Post subject: Alternate stat methods Reply with quote

So I am thinking for the project I am doing that instead of having your standard HP and MP I want to try to base it off of the stats themselves.

For example if you were attacked and took damage it might remove some of your constitution and strength (assuming you use the standard stat names atleast).

Suppose you could base most other things off of it aswell. Like dodging would involve your luck and dexterity. You could even work in a wounding style system, loose some dex if your thigh is cut open for example.

Anyways just wondering if anyone had done a game that removed the standard HP/MP model. Wanted to see if there are any considerations that might need to be taken into account.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alister once showed me a combat system he'd developed which was based around stats - you'd have to perform various different attacks, each of which reduced your various stats as well as those of your opponent. However the reductions were temporary in nature (lasting only seconds), as the idea was to find an opening through which you could cause hp damage.

The D&D RPG also supports stat damage (for poison, disease, undead attacks, etc), although this is in addition to regular hp damage, providing more of a hybrid system.

I've also heard of mud designs based completely on wounds rather than a hp counter, but that's really a different sort of system entirely.

With constantly lowering stats, one issue you'll have to contend with is what some people refer to as a death spiral, where the more injured you get the weaker your character becomes. Some people like it, others hate it, but either way it's something to consider carefully as it can have a major impact on your combat system.
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Grem



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 5:24 pm    Post subject: Stat damage Reply with quote

Stat damage has been utilized by the popular Sony MMORPG called Starwars Galaxies. Although I believe the system has recently changed due to unpopularity, for a time character 'health' was based on his 'health, action, and mind' gauges. Your health took damage whenever you were physically injured. Your action took damage whenever you became more exhausted or fatigued. Your mind took damage whenever you suffered some sort of mental attack or atrophy. If any of the gauges were reduced to 0, your character would become incapacitated. As I said previously, this system was unpopular - mostly due to the complexity of the numerous 'health bars'.
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Alister



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 5:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Alternate stat methods Reply with quote

KaVir summed up what I did pretty well. It didn't completely remove HP, but it did take the emphasis off of directly dealing out damage, and instead trying to weaken your opponent's stats so it is easier to hurt him in the long run.

I scrapped the idea for a couple reasons that may be of interest to you: I was origionally working with 7 stat types. Each combat maneuver would require the use of 2 (and sometimes 3) stats. It took an awful lot of work to keep things balanced. Every time I changed the cost and/or damage of one skill, I'd have to go back through to all other skills that would use or damage those stats and make sure I didn't screw anything else up, or open up some crazy new tactics.

When I decided to lower the number of stats (to 4) I ran into another undesirable situation. Essentially, the first attack decided the battle's outcome: if the attack missed, the attacker would lose. If the attack hit, the attacker would win. The problem was that, if a person lost points in a stat (as they always do when they attack or are hit), there weren't enough other stats for them to fall back on incase their opponent (invariably) capitalized on the new weakness.

Both of these problems can be dealt with, for sure... but I decided it just wasn't worth the effort, and started fresh with a simpler system. Don't get me wrong... I think a combat system moving from focus on HP to focus on stats is definitely doable, but my motives were largely curiousity, and I lacked the dedication to the idea to figure out how to make it work. But hopefully my system's problems will give you some insight on how (not) to design yours! Smile
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Baeran



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had put some thought into the death spiral situation and figured that the only way to really do it would be to make the skills less dependant on the stats or the wounds hurt the stats less. Basically nerf the system.

I was actually thinking of doing it as wounds though, took alittle inspiration from the wound thread earlier.

(Edit - Just to clear that up, make each wound have a location and a severity, from which a resulting loss of stats is incured. Most likely with a timer of some sort involved to remove it after a given time or slowly over a period of time.)

The complexity of handling a large number of specific stats also occured to me today at work. Nothing like sitting in a chair for 6 to 8 hours to get you mind to go elsewhere for entertainment. I was actually having a hard time deciding which stats to use even.

My first thought was to go with the standard STR CON DEX WIS INT model. Then I thought that willpower would be a good skill, useful in magic and whatnot. Maybe even for like getting back up after a tremendous thrashing. Then even more came up like reaction, stamina etc....

I dont know I will put some thought into it though, I havent even begun to make the combat system yet (I am building up off of SocketMud, and only just finished the movement code up).

I guess I have time to ponder it, but I like the idea of wounds, although I think I will make amputation and loss of limbs a rare thing and stick to gashes and broken bones....
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Maraz



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In regards to the death spiral problem what you might consider is some kind of ability that allows players to draw on a reserve of strength when they are severly wounded - either giving them the rush of energy to finish the fight or to get away. This wouldn't exactly solve the problem because for it to be realistic it would have to be a rush of energy that quickly ended with the player pretty much exhausted. What it would do is allow players to escape from a death spiral, but I'm guessing half the problem is that having a death spiral means that players can't keep fighting without a rest to recover. Personally I think that a death spiral of sorts is more realistic, but limits the hack and slash style of play.

On the idea of wounds I'd agree that gashes and broken bones were preferable; although if limbs could be magically/genetically regrown or maybe replaced with bionic enhancements it might not be so bad. Another possibility I had considered would be allowing wounds to become infected - the infection might cause serious stat decreases (perhaps permenant) however the only way to prevent this would be amputation. Only problem I can see is that too many players would opt for amputations and there'd be nobody with a full set of limbs.
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Baeran



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I was already considering a semi permadeath anyways, not your character is just lost but you go almost back to a newbie state.

The theme of the game is based mainly around quests and pk, although i want it to be more realistic then the standard DIKU. To reach that goal though I am using a different movement, combat and hopefully a newer equipment setup then most DIKU derivs have. I figured that removing HP and MP would be the ultimate step away from the standard though. Really I had trouble thinking up how to actually decide when a character is dead, well more realistically when they are uncon and then dead.

I figure the way I will do it is take some arbitrary level of constitution (or a skill of that type) and when it reaches that level, lets say your con drops to 8. You have to start making checks vs your will power to not pass out.

Planning on making the skills based on stats aswell like I said but I think the method I will use to keep the death spiral effect from taking hold too soon is to make the wounds only take relatively small ammounts of your stats. Say you have i dont know 25 as a max you can get your stats too and a gash might take 2 con and 1 or 2 str and dex. Not enough to cripple you in one hit, but enough that if the person gets hit alot they will know it.

Also the combat model will be more attack based (dont know if that is an accurate name, pretty ambiguous) as opposed to every tick you do the prerequisite number of attacks. Closest thing I can think of is KaVir's system, although mine will be simpler, less interaction with skills.

They can run too Very Happy. Fleeing for tactical advantage and having to chase people around will be pretty normal. Although I will probably impose a short time penalty to it, only like one tick though.

I should stop rambling now....
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maraz wrote:
In regards to the death spiral problem what you might consider is some kind of ability that allows players to draw on a reserve of strength when they are severly wounded - either giving them the rush of energy to finish the fight or to get away. This wouldn't exactly solve the problem because for it to be realistic it would have to be a rush of energy that quickly ended with the player pretty much exhausted.


Yeah, I have a "berserker rage" ability which allows you to ignore pain (and it has an exhaustion penalty at the end). There are also other specialised abilities which allow players to resist or even ignore pain, although the drawback is that such powers are of little use unless the fight is very closely matched (in which case you might as well have bought different abilities, as then you could have beaten your opponent more easily).

I also had pain penalties in GodWars Deluxe, and allowed players to overcome them by spending willpower points - either with a command, or automatically via a set of configurable options. Willpower was also used for resisting other things (such as mental attacks) so people had to be careful not to spend it all too quickly. I found this solution more elegant in some ways, although it had the downside that everyone had the ability to ignore pain.

Baeran wrote:
Well I was already considering a semi permadeath anyways, not your character is just lost but you go almost back to a newbie state.


And have to rebuild from there? That sounds very harsh - in some ways that could be even more demoralising than losing your character outright; at least with permadeath you can go down in a blaze of glory.

Or could you regain your former power much faster than earning it initially (rather like the skill-decay models some people discuss)?
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Baeran



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its something like that I just threw a short thing about it on the permadeath thread. Basically if you wanted to you would loose nothing when you died. It is all based on whether or not you think it is better to get short or long term benefits.

The way I am planning it you use your points (from quests and killing things etc) to buy stats, either permanently or temporarily. If you buy temporarily it is far cheaper but you loose them if you die and revert to the original stats you had. If you save up and buy the permanent stats enhancement you keep the stats over a death, later I may add you loose a single stat point from a random stat, just to make death a bad thing.

I will put a lower limit on how far down the stats will go though. So if you get ganged up on and kill like fifty times you wont get sent to 1 stat point or something.

Also while I was at work, I seem to plan my mud at work instead of working Very Happy , I decided on the stats to use. I wanted to make it a good blend of stats to show as many facets of the character as possible, I did leave out some that I thought might be useful though just to keep it simple.

The stats are basically 3 mental and 3 physical stats. Wisdom (or Knowledge you could say I guess, Willpower, and Intelligence (not how much you know but more of a measure of your reasoning skills and how quick thinking you are.) The physical are Strength, Dexterity and Constitution. All of which are pretty standard I guess.

I sat around for awhile trying to decide on a balanced system to make you take damage to the stats also. Decided to go with nerfing the actual amount of damage to a stat. Possibly even spreading large amounts over multiple stats. I will post more on this in the morning though when I collect my thoughts.
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Tyche



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tunnels & Trolls is stat based and exhibits the death spiral. RoleMaster is not but has a lovely critical hit and exhaustion system which indirectly exhibits the death spiral. Cyberpunk does as well. D&D, AD&D[1] do not and combat is almost straight-line attrition from start to finish. The stock Diku/Merc systems are similar to D&D in that regard.

I prefer the death spiral. It just feels right to me.

[1] I've never played 2nd or 3rd edition AD&D, so I don't know about those.
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Baeran



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would rather have it be a death spiral in some cases. Not a whoever gets the first hit off wins, but I dont want a Diku like whoever has the most hp (or mana to heal the hp with) scenario either...


I don't know though, so far a large portion of the design elements of my game will be going against the norm. Whether that turns out good or bad we shall see. Atleast it's not a cookie cutter.
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kelson76



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject: Re: Alternate stat methods Reply with quote

Alister wrote:
KaVir summed up what I did pretty well. It didn't completely remove HP, but it did take the emphasis off of directly dealing out damage, and instead trying to weaken your opponent's stats so it is easier to hurt him in the long run.

I scrapped the idea for a couple reasons that may be of interest to you: I was origionally working with 7 stat types. Each combat maneuver would require the use of 2 (and sometimes 3) stats. It took an awful lot of work to keep things balanced. Every time I changed the cost and/or damage of one skill, I'd have to go back through to all other skills that would use or damage those stats and make sure I didn't screw anything else up, or open up some crazy new tactics.

When I decided to lower the number of stats (to 4) I ran into another undesirable situation. Essentially, the first attack decided the battle's outcome: if the attack missed, the attacker would lose. If the attack hit, the attacker would win. The problem was that, if a person lost points in a stat (as they always do when they attack or are hit), there weren't enough other stats for them to fall back on incase their opponent (invariably) capitalized on the new weakness.

Both of these problems can be dealt with, for sure... but I decided it just wasn't worth the effort, and started fresh with a simpler system. Don't get me wrong... I think a combat system moving from focus on HP to focus on stats is definitely doable, but my motives were largely curiousity, and I lacked the dedication to the idea to figure out how to make it work. But hopefully my system's problems will give you some insight on how (not) to design yours! Smile


I think the biggest issue here is the counter for each stat. If you are working on a 20 point stat system means that every point has a 5% impact. This means that a 3-4 point decrement has a 15-20% impact!

The easiest way to handle this is a 1000 point stat system. That reduces the impact a single hit/round can have, by increasing the granularity. In a 20 point system, minimum granularity is 5%, and if a stat is at 10, that means 1 point is 10%!

I look at it like gambling, you need a large enough bankroll to handle swings and provide the opportunity for the overall probablity to take effect. The same is true with a stat based system, you need enough points in each stat for a battle between two players to come down to more than the first hit.

- Kelson
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Ciwell



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another alternative method I have seen used also does away with general HPs, however assigns a certain HP value to each body part (head, torso, legs, arms, etc.). When the HP of a body part reaches zero, then it is unusable. A well-designed wound system can supplement this as well.
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shasarak



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMHO, death spirals suck. They tend to make battles extremely one-sided. With an attrition-based system, if one opponent is slightly weaker than the other then he will still sometimes win, if he's lucky. Any system which makes you more likely to get hit as a result of having been hit already tends to mean that the slightly stronger opponent always wins.

This takes a lot of the excitement out of battles - they become much more of a foregone conclusion.

However, if you have a non-automated combat system, where each and every attack is something specifically decided on by the player, then location-based (or stat-based) damage might have a place. In that case damage to (say) one arm but not the other would penalise certain types of attack, but not others. So that can actually make the battle more tactical: you could try to inflict a type of damage on your opponent which makes it difficult for him to be able to execute his favourite combat move, while your wounded opponent would have to think quickly and switch tactics to something that he can do without his wound affecting it. Similarly, an opponent with a wounded shield-arm might have to throw his shield away and start to dodge incoming attacks instead.

There's also a strategic element - if you anticipate that an opponent will try and partly immobilise you by aiming for your arms, that might be a good reason to invest in heavy pauldrons and gauntlets (while leaving the rest of your body less protected for mobility).

But all of this requires much more precise control over attack and defence moves than one tends to have in Diku clones. If every attack coming in either hits or misses in a way that depends on dodge and parry skills in a fixed manner, then losing use of your shield arm is a pure penalty. If you can choose whether to dodge, block or parry any individual attack then losing your shield arm is not an unambiguous penalty, but something that requires switching from one defensive tactic to another.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
IMHO, death spirals suck. They tend to make battles extremely one-sided. With an attrition-based system, if one opponent is slightly weaker than the other then he will still sometimes win, if he's lucky. Any system which makes you more likely to get hit as a result of having been hit already tends to mean that the slightly stronger opponent always wins.


IMO the reverse is true - the stronger player is likely to beat the weaker player, unless there's something like a death spiral which they can use to gain the advantage. Backstab or ambush the stronger player and you can bring them down to your own power level - but without the death spiral, they'd retain their advantage and just hammer you to a pulp.
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