TEAMWORK: SKILLSETS FOR YOUR PARTY OF 4 (OR MORE)!

Skillsets in parties

Introduction

There's a lot of talk about skillsets, balancing, making everyone useful. If you check the "New to RMN?" Introduction, it links to tutorials, such as this one: The Real Brickroad's Skillset Theorybut none of them really examine what it is that makes a TEAM. You know, your Fighter, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage combo? What made this the default party that so many start off with? Teamwork: What are you doing for your party of 4?

Part I: Individual Skillsets

Before I get into the meat of this, let's talk just a bit about individual skillsets shall we?

First off, "Doomed2die, what the heck is a skillset?" Good question, a skillset is a set of abilities available to a player character (PC) for use. More often than not, and in the case of this article, these are used for combat. To deal damage, to heal damage, to cause status afflictions, and a broad spectrum of other effects available to your heroes saving the world to make killing the evil overlord easier.

So, "Doomed2die, what the heck makes a skillset useful? A skillset is useful in battle when it has skills which complete 1 or more of the following criteria:

I) It deals a lot of damage
II) It deals inhibiting status infliction
III) It reduces the damage you take
IV) It increases the damage you deal
V) It reduces the damage you've taken (Heals)
VI) It gets rid of inhibiting status inflictions

Let's look at each more in depth

I) Dealing damage is ultimately the final goal of any part of battle. Your ultimate goal is to eliminate the opponents, generally the means to this particular end is to deal damage until their hit points goes to 0. Skills deal more damage than your normal

II) Silence: prevent your enemies from decimating you with their skillsets. Poison: Deal damage over time to increase your overall damage output. Blind: reduce damage taken so you can dish out more damage and focus less on healing. See? You want to stop your enemies from fighting and fight better yourself!

III) Defending for example, by taking less damage you increase the damage you deal without healing in a shorter period of time. it's good

IV) Attack Up? Defense Down? These little tools (when in a well done game) will increase the damage you deal over the number of turns. This is useful in your ultimate goal: Hit Points=0

V) Again, same as III, you want to take less damage

VI) Well, you don't wanna be blinded and silenced, right?

"Okay, Doomed2die. So I know why a skillset is good, and what a skillset is. Now what?

The answer here is synergy. Synergy is essentially when things work together. So, "Doomed2die, how do you make Synergy?" Well...

Part II: Synergy: What is it?

Dictionary Definition:"The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects"

So, basically, when 2 things work together to make a better overall effect. Synergy is when you make a cohesive party that works together to complete the ultimate goal better (in this case, damage).

An example would be this: I have a skill which reduces your physical defense to 0 after 2 turns. I have a skill, which after 2 turns, will unleash 10 physical attacks on a target. That's synergy. I make up for the delay of the previous skill with the next skill and the physical defense reduction's effectiveness is maxed out by having the 10 attacks. Little things like that make all the difference.

But why does it have to be that simple? Sure, a fighter archtype (basically your giant sword wielding, spiky haired blonde hero) would do great with that much but what about his trusty sidekick, his love prospect #1, love prospect #2, the rival, the pet, best friend, bad-guy-gone-good, and love prospect #1's childhood friend?

And so, whereas my first example was Individualized Synergy, the working of a single skillset within itself to maximize its own effects, I'm going to now illustrate Teamwork, when a group works together to maximize the overall effect.

Part III: Synergy: How to Obtain It

I) Every Party Has a Purpose
When you make your party, you have an inherent purpose to your party. It can be as broad as "deal a lot of damage" or it can be more narrow like "Deal a lot of physical damage." It can even be narrowed down to "Augment the physical damage of spiky haired blonde hero and decimate opponents with Limit Break"

See? Every party has a purpose, and so, synergy has to be done to increase this particular effect.
II) Synergy Goes to Achieve This Purpose
Let's look at our typical Final Fantasy 1 party: Fighter, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage.

Black Mage comes with spells to inhibit the enemy and slow them down and make them more vulnerable. He also comes with powerful buffer spells to make your fighter and thief deal a lot more damage. The Whitemage will protect your party and let them focus on attacking, not spamming potions. Your fighter and Thief will deal a lot of damage. Ta-da, synergy. In its most primal form. Generally all parties have this level of synergy.

Of course, there are forms of counter-synergy. For example, the Sleep condition is stopped when a unit takes damage but 1 hero has a skill which passively deals damage to all enemy units at the start of every turn, hence rendering your sleep spells useless. This is a problem. Avoid countersynergy, and account for situations.

And of course, there is 0 synergy. 4 fighters. Attack, attack, attack. There is no real synergy nor counter-synergy, there's just attack.
II) Synergy Is Attained Through Skillsets
Stats will make the skeleton of a character, but skillsets really individualize them. Look at Final Fantasy V Advance: ALL the characters had access to all the same classes and so there was no individualization if I chose to grow them the same, even though they have differentiated stats. It's all about the skillset.

So, your skillset has to augment other skillsets and synergize. That's all there is to #3 :P
IV) Synergy Examples
Really, there's not much to say here. It's hard to explain exactly how synergy is attained. You attain it through skillsets which augment each other's abilities. So, I'll just use examples of typical skillsets.

WHENEVER making a party or class options, or character options ALWAYS keep in mind the potential synergies. You can't just stick together a black mage and a warrior and say to the player "make it work." You have to give them reasons to use the characters together. There is no point in a game where I spam "Fire" and "Mighty Slash" until the enemy dies. So, I'm giving you something to work with. When building parties for Act I, Act II, etc. or making classes for the player to choose, keep in mind that these are strategies commonly employed by those trying to get the best strategy of the game.

The All-Star- The All-Star synergy set revolves around augmenting the damage of 1-2 (or more in games with more than 4 characters) characters to the maximum. This involves character A (the allstar) to have either AMAZING physical damage output or the SUPEROMEGALAMIGHTY SUPAKILLA SPELL. Character B, C, and D will have either Defense down or Resistance Down, healing, Attack/Spirit Up, Reduce Cut/Pierce/Fire/Water/Magic/Physical/X resistance, and other such skills.

Wither- Withering is essentially taking down enemys' health points in small increments over time. This is a typical turtle/stall technique. Characters have turtling skills like heals and defense buffers. The next part is skills like poison, blind, burn, sleep, and other inhibitors. Deal damage through poison and burn while using blind, silence, sleep, paralyze, numb, and stun to keep them down. Finish off with low price low return skills like "1 mana, 50 damage" spells

Beserker and Guardian Typical of games with protector type characters. For example, in my game, 1 possible set up is to have a beserker class (high attack, terrible defense) with the guardian class (high defense, below average attack). The Guardian class comes with a skill to take damage for an ally, to increase ally's defenses, and to draw fire from the enemy, making him the target more often than his allies. My beserker comes with typical high damage output skills. This also applies to black mage types too. Have 1 defend, 1 attack.

Turtle A lot of defensive types, near impossible to die. Increase resistances, heal, defend, and just keep attacking. It's like withering without the poison.

Elementalist This focuses on throwing all the elemental spells and weapons that you have that the enemy is weak against. Using elemental resistance debuffs finishes the job. It's basic but it works.

There are others but these are the most basic forms. They can be combined (give your white mage the Amulet of Poison Casting and you got wither and allstar together) and there can be more. These are very broad and basic but more specific types of gameplay and battle mechanics leads way to different team setups.

Keep in mind that how your players set up their teams makes their gameplay experience. So for more ease of play, make synergetic options for teams but also leave the more challenge seeking player to choose their own teams of 4x thieves or whatnot if that be their choice.

V) Individual Value is unnecessary
Yes you heard me right. Individual value is unnecessary. Think of the White Mage: No damage output, can't win a fight but can't lose it either. Yet, it is considered 1 of the most valued classes and the best way to make an easy first play through. Why? Because she synergizes well with the rest of the team so that she makes an ultimately high return even though alone, she's screwed. This is the same mindset you need to have with your games. Don't just think "oh he can deal high damage" think "if you use him with her, he'll have high damage but otherwise he'll be mediocre." This leaves a more focused and intelligent gameplay option. Synergy is for combat focused games where strategy is necessary. Keep that in mind.


Conclusion

Well, I hope I made my point. Too many games I see today where your party is "I deal high damage. He deals high damage. She deals high damage. That other person heals us." It's bland, boring, and lacks depth for a combat focused game. Keep in mind how a team will work together and you have the key to good combat. This is not as a developer, but also as a gamer.

Thanks for reading, I hope you got something out of it. Feel free to contribute and tell me what I did wrong, what you agree/disagree with, or what I should add.

Posts

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Versalia
I was looking forward to some gam mak
1143
I feel like this article just repeats basic concepts from multiple other articles.

http://rpgmaker.net/articles/293/ A much more detailed list of battle roles, not only applicable to enemies but heroes as well;
http://rpgmaker.net/articles/4/ Brickroad's vastly more detailed study of the same topic;
http://rpgmaker.net/articles/27/ Kentona's study of the same topic;
http://rpgmaker.net/articles/177/ Craze's article on unique skillsets

etc
Yeah, this'll get you a jRPG if you follow it but... Eh, doing stuff like the suggestions always seems so boring. Everyone's played games around these archetypes before. What makes a game shine is what it does that doesn't fall onto that list.
author=doomed2die
A skillset is useful in battle when it has skills which complete 1 or more of the following criteria:

I) It deals a lot of damage
II) It deals inhibiting status infliction
III) It reduces the damage you take
IV) It increases the damage you deal
V) It reduces the damage you've taken (Heals)
VI) It gets rid of inhibiting status inflictions

This is usually not true. In most games I've played, II, III and IV are useless or limited to occasional situations. For example, most RPGs have a sleep spell, but in only a few of them is said sleep spell appealing to use.

Even RPG Maker games usually have offensive move, healing, curative spells, stat up, stat down, status effects and all that. That's the easy part. The hard part is to make anything that doesn't heal or deal direct damage appealing or even useful. This spills over to synergies as well. Many RPGs has exactly what you recommended, different party member with different skills that are supposed to work together. However, despite all that, offense and heal ends up being the only skills worth using.
@Versalia
author=Versalia
I feel like this article just repeats basic concepts from multiple other articles.

http://rpgmaker.net/articles/293/ A much more detailed list of battle roles, not only applicable to enemies but heroes as well;
http://rpgmaker.net/articles/4/ Brickroad's vastly more detailed study of the same topic;
http://rpgmaker.net/articles/27/ Kentona's study of the same topic;
http://rpgmaker.net/articles/177/ Craze's article on unique skillsets

etc

Part II is more the focus and I hope to expand upon it a little but the idea is simple: I'm not here to talk about skillsets as much as how they work in conjunction with each other

author=psy_wombats
Yeah, this'll get you a jRPG if you follow it but... Eh, doing stuff like the suggestions always seems so boring. Everyone's played games around these archetypes before. What makes a game shine is what it does that doesn't fall onto that list.

True, like I said, it's difficult to explain exactly what results in the synergy and I'll have to expand upon it but those archtypes are age old for a reason.

author=Crystalgate
author=doomed2die
A skillset is useful in battle when it has skills which complete 1 or more of the following criteria:

I) It deals a lot of damage
II) It deals inhibiting status infliction
III) It reduces the damage you take
IV) It increases the damage you deal
V) It reduces the damage you've taken (Heals)
VI) It gets rid of inhibiting status inflictions
This is usually not true. In most games I've played, II, III and IV are useless or limited to occasional situations. For example, most RPGs have a sleep spell, but in only a few of them is said sleep spell appealing to use.

Even RPG Maker games usually have offensive move, healing, curative spells, stat up, stat down, status effects and all that. That's the easy part. The hard part is to make anything that doesn't heal or deal direct damage appealing or even useful. This spills over to synergies as well. Many RPGs has exactly what you recommended, different party member with different skills that are supposed to work together. However, despite all that, offense and heal ends up being the only skills worth using.


Usually not true but like I said, in a well made game. Sure, you'll have these people, the goal is to make them worth it. At any rate, the hopes in this is that II, III, IV are all going to happen. I'm hoping to make a sleep spell worth it (for example, sleep the ogre so I can kill the bats first). In every case, there's an ultimate goal like I said.

It was more of an idealized situation. Part of the problem is you can't inflict status afflictions on anything worth inflicting them on. But hey, with so many talking about it, it's bound to change eventually.
Of course, there are forms of counter-synergy. For example, the Sleep condition is stopped when a unit takes damage but 1 hero has a skill which passively deals damage to all enemy units at the start of every turn, hence rendering your sleep spells useless. This is a problem. Avoid countersynergy, and account for situations.

I have to disagree with that particular example. If your Sleep spell caster acts before the enemies do, he can put them to sleep at the beginning of every turn while your other ally's passive attack skill deals them constant damage. Thus, enemies can never act and eventually all die. That can be a flawless strategy (assuming that Sleep works most of the time) and is a perfect example of synergy throughout the battle.

Otherwise I think the point of your article is to help makers create more intricate and interesting battle strategies and situations, and I welcome that.
It's far from complete, looking back on it, and I have a lot of work to do but thanks.

Well, say your sleeper doesn't go first, that can be an example of counter-synergy. If you wake them every time you sleep them, there's little point and if it works out the way you noted, it's imbalanced lol
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1914
The best games i've played are where ; 'physical and magic) armor(or defense) break
and speed break (eventually affected through weapons or skills) are the most precious of all attacks.
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