ENMITY

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In your games, how do you handle enmity (enemy aggression/focus while in combat)?

Would it be welcomed to have different enemies handle enmity differently? Or would that be frustrating to deal with as a player? Do you prefer one static and predictable system?

We're toying with the notion of having different enemies deal with enmity in different ways. I think hate/threat management is fun to explore, but it also means that enemies at the beginning of a zone/area should start off relatively weak so that the player can figure out what they're dealing with, exactly. My view is that this turns dealing with each different enemy type into a puzzle of sorts.

What are your thoughts on this?
I'm not quite sure what you mean exactly.

Enmity is the state of being or having an enemy. If you're talking about enemies adapting to your prior actions then I think it's pretty much always a good idea. Most enemies in RPGs/platformers/etc behave off of instinct, so it makes sense for them to adapt to you - whether that means running away from you or becoming more aggressive. Platformer-wise the original Rayman did this with great success. If you were always defeating a certain enemy a certain way, eventually those enemies would learn how to adapt their behaviour to make it impossible or much harder for you to defeat them that way. I always thought it was one of the best unmentioned features of the game.

RPG-wise I think it would be neat to see something similar. Let's take the typical Slime monster as an example. Your first encounter with it is just a regular simple battle. You may defeat it mainly with physical attacks, or maybe you relied on magic to take it down. The slime in that area should slowly begin to adapt to this, so if you mainly deal with slime monsters with physical attacks the adapted slime would have better physical resistance; if you defeat them with magic, the adapted ones would have more magical resistance.

To take it further, more sentient enemies might begin to target a specific character that you rely on for skills.

There's nothing wrong with a static and predictable system as long as the behaviour it governs in enemies makes sense. I'd much rather play a game where the enemies behave according to a complex set of patterns in response to player behaviour than one where enemies behave according to a randomly determined algorithm.
UPRC
Exciting, but ultimately pointless.
7376
I honestly feel that threat management should stay in MMORPGs where it belongs. It just doesn't feel right in any single player experience.
To Mateui:

I guess I should have been more clear. My understanding of the word "enmity" in how it relates to games seems to be different from yours. I'm not talking about how an enemy reacts to your tactics in general (or I should say, your understanding of it seems more broad, and I'm speaking of something very specific). I'm talking purely about who the enemy focuses its attention on.

Your attacks and abilities generate a certain amount of hate/threat/enmity (as do healing, buffs, and debuffs). If you use something like Provoke on an enemy, in should focus on you. This should be done until another of your party members deals enough damage to be viewed as a larger threat to the enemy than the Provoker.

When you do something like this, it makes characters with high defense (be it magic defense or physical defense, depending on enemy type) more valuable, and it puts you at risk for dealing too much damage too quickly. Typically, a character that is geared to deal damage is wearing attack-oriented gear rather than defense-boosting gear. The system allows you to specialize. It's standard fare for MMOs, but it seems like it's not often used in single-player RPGs.

Some examples of different enmity types:
  • a monster-type that targets characters based on standard enmity conventions
  • a monster-type that targets whoever attacked it last
  • a monster-type that targets ONLY whoever attacked it first
  • a monster-type that gives targeting priority to magic-users (I assume it would give a "bonus" level of enmity to casters that have casted during this combat event, and it would target the caster with the most enmity until someone else exceeded that level)

et cetera
author=UPRC
I honestly feel that threat management should stay in MMORPGs where it belongs. It just doesn't feel right in any single player experience.
I can see that point of view. I'm just tired of games where the enemy seems to target players at random. That doesn't make any sense in combat, and it feels sloppy to allow things to run off of a random number generator like that.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13865
UPRC
I honestly feel that threat management should stay in MMORPGs where it belongs. It just doesn't feel right in any single player experience.


Wow, that's general and has no evidence behind it!

***


I am ALL FOR Threat management. Karsuman and I even released a battle demo (it's shit, but interesting) a few years ago where one of the primary mechanics was that each character had a Threat meter - Elesca was good at absorbing Threat from weak or hurt allies, Rucian could spend his Threat to heal the party, Arian could disperse his Threat with a smile. Threat was the percent chance that the ally was going to be targeted, typically increased with damage or particularly nasty hexes. Aladhi casting a Pyroclasm on the enemy party is going to bring in a lot of Threat, so a tank had best get it off him ASAP.

Basically, I think it's wonderful, dynamic and adds a lot of (yes, I'm repeating myself) dynamic action to the stale tradin'-blows RPG battle system. It adds a flow to battle - you let your mages blow shit up, then have your tanks get the attention back on themselves while your support characters shift from buffing your damage-dealers to recouping lost resources or even reviving a poorly-protected ally.

In my current project, targeting is somewhat random, but predictable. Characters are Solari, Lunatics or Arcanists (weak to Lunar damage, Solar damage, and nothing, respectively) - this is something you can immediately tell about a person or creature, and is displayed with a little icon next to enemy names for YOUR needs. Similarly, enemies will attempt to cast their Lunar spells on Solari. Current HP also plays a role; naturally, hurting characters are more likely to be attacked (note: in this game you have 20 characters (5 out at a time); there will be a reserve character if you can't revive or heal in time).

Tanks are still important, though! Of the four tanks, two Provoke (making a specific foe much more likely to attack them), one Covers (taking an ally's damage for them for a turn), and the last one has more immediately defensive abilities and passively makes all enemies more likely to attack her (it's not as strong as Provoke, but still useful/reliable). In addition, one character can greatly raise an ally's chance to be targeted and another can greatly reduce it.

Summary: Enemies have basic AI, but you can mess with it by tanking properly, which is essential.

***


Regarding "puzzle" targeting: ew, gross. There's more to worry about in a fight - dynamics are important, but a gimmicky way of dealing damage is just a gimmick. For some bosses, yeah, sure, that's fine. For every area in the game...? Bleh. Sounds annoying as fuck.
author=Craze
Regarding "puzzle" targeting: ew, gross. There's more to worry about in a fight - dynamics are important, but a gimmicky way of dealing damage is just a gimmick. For some bosses, yeah, sure, that's fine. For every area in the game...? Bleh. Sounds annoying as fuck.

I agree with that to an extent, but just as I view random targeting as not making sense, I see all enemies behaving similarly to not making sense as well.

I know they're more or less restated from what I typed above, but here are a few examples:

  • When you walk into a forest, you encounter pixies. You don't know how pixies behave, so your first few battles are more cautious, because your learning how to best handle them. You figure out that the pixies are targeting your mages more often than not. You shift your tactics to handle that, understanding that spells and casting will generate an unusually higher amount of threat in these encounters. The battles near beginning of the area are pretty easy, because it is understood that you need a small area to figure out what makes pixies angry. As you venture in deeper, the pixies become more challenging (naturally).


  • Your party is now encountering wolves. Wolves target whoever attacked them last - no matter what. You adjust your strategy when battling them to accomodate this - employing a Cover-type ability on whoever you know the wolf is going to attack next.


  • Simple-minded ogres are the new enemy. Their intelligence is so low that they get tunnel-vision and only attack one character until it's dead. Then, they target something else (until it, too, is dead). You figure this out, and when you deal with ogres in the future, you have your tank attack first, and then you make him defend as he gets cure/heal-bombed. Your damage dealers are free to go all out, because they are not at risk.


I'm not saying that we are going to go this route, but it is something we are considering. I read a thread over where LockeZ talks about unnecessary battles. I don't mean for this thread to go down that route, but he (and others in that thread) had some interesting points. There's not a lot of fun, to me, in just jamming through a bunch of normal attacks, mowing down the typical, cannon-fodder enemy, on the way to the boss. I think it's interesting to have to figure out how an enemy(-type) works, and then defeat it as efficiently as possible.

I also run into the problem of never using my items in games - even if they're something cheap like potions. This gives reason to employ potions, in some instances, over healing spells.

And lastly, I absolutely despise the same old, tired gameplay mechanics that we are force-fed in nearly every RPG. I hate sliding ice puzzles. I hate push-block puzzles. I hate redirecting mirrors to aim light beams. I hate stand-on-tile-to-open-door puzzles. To me, these are annoying. At this point in time, I can't say whether or not I would hate "puzzle targeting". There is a good chance that I might. I, however, would like to find out!
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
20836
author=WonderPup
author=UPRC
I honestly feel that threat management should stay in MMORPGs where it belongs. It just doesn't feel right in any single player experience.
I can see that point of view. I'm just tired of games where the enemy seems to target players at random. That doesn't make any sense in combat, and it feels sloppy to allow things to run off of a random number generator like that.
Actually, even in those old RPGs from NES and SNES days there were small ways to influence who got attacked. In DQ games, the person first in the party generally got attacked more often, with the frequency decreasing until the last person in the party.
What kentona said. A lot of RPGs like Forgotten Promise something something also uses Aggro and it's really nicely done IMHO.

*loves aggro and guilt stuff*
An enmity based system is rather nice. It was executed beautifully in FF11, and I'd like to see it again.

The only problem that I have with it is that in an RPG (Which is generally and mostly turn based), this can be a sort of game-breaking hidden stat. I mean, tanking with a paladin while a mage nukes is a nice idea, but eventually when that paladin is able to take a beating for almost no damage while the mages get free reign with focusing heals on the Paladin, it's going to get kind of repetitive and easily driven. Even if the "hate" only lasts for a couple of turns, it still offers 2 turns of no damage(HIGH DEF vs Monster attack vs Healing) and Magical Firepower + the 4th member (If you have 4 members in your battle party) is pretty much overdrive.

To solve this you could have "enmity spikes" which basically means, a chance an attack from the player on an enemy while that enemy is focusing on another target infuriates it *deep breath* and instantly sheds all "hate" for its target, and switches to the attacker which initiated the "enmity spike".

just my two pennies. Yes, I'm denying the two cents because

I'm...

(•_•)

( •_•)>⌐■-■

(⌐■_■)

British.
UPRC
Exciting, but ultimately pointless.
7376
author=kentona
author=WonderPup
author=UPRC
I honestly feel that threat management should stay in MMORPGs where it belongs. It just doesn't feel right in any single player experience.
I can see that point of view. I'm just tired of games where the enemy seems to target players at random. That doesn't make any sense in combat, and it feels sloppy to allow things to run off of a random number generator like that.
Actually, even in those old RPGs from NES and SNES days there were small ways to influence who got attacked. In DQ games, the person first in the party generally got attacked more often, with the frequency decreasing until the last person in the party.

I feel like the default AI in RPG Maker 2003's DBS likes to target whichever party member is the most hurt. I never really clued in until last night when I was testing my game and had a character die. I thought to myself, "No problem, I'll just use an item to get them back on their feet." So I did... And then they were attacked and killed in one hit.

I brought the character back again. Once more, they were hit and killed in one attack.... And then when it happened a third time I stopped and wondered to myself, "Is this really random?"
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13865
From my testing, the only thing I noticed that affected targeting was front/back rows (60/40%). I didn't explicitly test for HP-based targeting, however, and don't care to since there is no reason to ever use 2k3.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
The nice thing that adding threat and tanking does is it makes healing more tactical. It's easier to add things like healing combos and healing skill rotations and legitimately useful single-target heals when one character is taking 80% of the damage, and these sorts of things help keep the player interested. (Though if the player is a novice, they can sometimes add too much complexity.)

A potential downside is that it makes a character death much harder to recover from. The player loses their margin of error because if the tank dies, it's probably game over. The enemies will go on to attack the other characters, likely violently murdering them all in an extremely efficient fashion because they take several times more damage than the tank did. If making your game more difficult is part of your goal then this is great, but if you want the game to be more approachable and give people a decent amount of room for mistakes then this can be pretty rough.

So basically tanking and threat management is a mechanic best suited for harder games.

(I'm kind of lumping tanking and threat management together here as the same concept, because I can't imagine threat management being particularly useful without tanking. I'd be interested to hear ideas of how to make that work, though, if anyone disagrees.)
A character who holds threat needs not be a tank. You could easily use a threat system along with dummy characters, like the Teddy Bear in Earthbound.

Also, who says that just because the tank dies, everyone else does too? In a typical RPG, most characters take similar amounts of damage depending on gear. Having one character use Threat Generating abilities makes it easier for the player to heal, while still outputting damage. (I'd use Protect/Shell more often in FF games, if I could ensure the person I was buffing would be getting attacked. )Now that damage is mitigated, I just have to keep him healed (and heal anyone who might take splash/all-target damage) and keep him buffed while my other characters deal damage. If he dies, it doesn't mean my other characters are significantly less viable in taking damage. I just no longer have a designated meat shield.
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4011
I'm all for control over who gets targeted first because I have a raging design-on for non-random number systems, although I think there's probably a better way to implement it instead of MMO-like threat. Any step in that direction is good though, even FF1 had a threat system.

Anyone ever play pokemon cards? How it worked was each player had an Active pokemon, and they could attack each other, while the pokemon on the sidelines could swap in and out. Some could also support from the sidelines... that actually sounds like a pretty fun kind of battle - there could be a like of strategy in that.

No idea how you'd pull that off in RM though :P
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=prexus
Also, who says that just because the tank dies, everyone else does too? In a typical RPG, most characters take similar amounts of damage depending on gear. Having one character use Threat Generating abilities makes it easier for the player to heal, while still outputting damage. (I'd use Protect/Shell more often in FF games, if I could ensure the person I was buffing would be getting attacked. )Now that damage is mitigated, I just have to keep him healed (and heal anyone who might take splash/all-target damage) and keep him buffed while my other characters deal damage. If he dies, it doesn't mean my other characters are significantly less viable in taking damage. I just no longer have a designated meat shield.


Uh if he doesn't take any less damage, then adding threat to him makes healing vastly harder because he will be at the brink of death far more often than if the damage were spread out among everyone. Even if the only reason he's taking less damage is because of defensive buffs, it still has the same effect as if he naturally took less damage - the other characters don't have the defensive buffs and so when the tank dies they start getting wailed on for 2x as much damage as the tank was taking.
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4011
That's assuming there's a distinct tank and then a group of non-tanks. Back when WoW was crazier and less homogenized, off-tanking or crisis-tanking happened all the time. Rogues could tank a boss for 15 seconds with their Evasion move, for example.

You could definitely have a standard party of four be: one beefy tank, two semi-decent off-tanks (like blackbelts, for example) and then a weakling caster-type, if we want to stick with standard tropes.

Sure, it's not optimal to have someone without huge defensive bonuses tanking, but it can work in a pinch.
I like the idea of off-tank in a pinch more than tank dead = gameover. Threat focused gameplay can definitely work in a turn based RPG, haven't seen it that much though.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Yeah the way WoW handled rogue tanking back in the day was a nice way to increase the margin of error for players.

If you're not familiar with it: in WoW, once the tank dies, enemies start attacking whoever has done the most damage to them. Rogues, as heavy damage dealers, often were their first target. Rogues take a lot of damage when they're attacked, but they have two (three?) skills that can stun enemies for a couple seconds each (on 15-30 second cooldowns, I think) plus one skill that makes them evade 90% of all attacks for 15 seconds (on a five minute cooldown). So they can't tank for an entire fight, but they can tank for a little while longer than most other classes. In a game without cooldowns, this wouldn't work as well and you'd need some other way to make their off-tanking skills only work in emergencies.
Adon237
if i had an allowance, i would give it to rmn
1743
author=UPRC
I honestly feel that threat management should stay in MMORPGs where it belongs. It just doesn't feel right in any single player experience.

I disagree.
Also, I think that if a certain player statistically/naturally better, he/she would pose more of a threat to an enemy, and the enemy would want to get rid of this person.
Threat management = must
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