HOW MANY POTIONS DO YOU REALLY NEED?

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So, I'm in the works of making a project again (lost my count) and I'm placing treasure chests along the way to the first boss. Right now, I have four chests including Potions (1=2x Potions, 1=2x Potions, 1=1 Potion, 1=1 Potion).
The player starts off with 5 Potions because of story reasons. So, as the player will reach the first boss, they will have about 11 Potions depending on if they use some in battles or not. How generous should I be about giving potions away? I do this to ease the player into it, but maybe I give the player too much? I was hoping this could start off a main discussion about finding the right balance between helping the player in a logical sense or holding their hand all the way.

So, what is a logical way of item balance in a game?

The player could farm items, of course, in their own pace thanks to battle rewards and buying them at shops.
How easy should it be to earn stuff?

(Lot of questions here, but I hope you understand what kind of discussion I'm trying start here).
The short answer is - depends on your balancing. Games use potions in different ways, and usually it's in a rather boring "you have some extra healing somewhere" fashion, or a way to conserve mana outside of battle (healings spells tend to be stronger most of the time)
Well, I think some questions to throw in are

Do you even need potions to survive battles? Do you need them or are they just handy helpers? Are there healing spells? If so, are there mana restorative items as well? Are there healing spots of sorts somewhere?

It really largely depends on how difficult your game is, and if you want item managment to be a bigger part of it. Many times potions are just "emergency helpers" during tough fights, or if you are struggling with the game. They are just there, but you can also often skip on them (and some kinds of players - like me! - will just hoard them unless you are forced to use them). It's not gamebreaking, but it can make seem the addition a little pointless if you simply aren't using them.

It's because of this that low item limits (say, carry capacity of 10 potions at maximum) encourages the player to actually use them instead of hoarding them because they would lose them otherwise anyway.
Other games that focus more on the difficulty of it all make them rarer and tougher, and may limit your maximum capacity at the same time (I think Dark Souls does this wonderfully well).
You can also limit the ways you can recover to make them more useful (no full free recover, or having to pay a hefty sum for revival actually adds to using items, as you want to make sure your party stays healthy)

As for the buying part - what is your money balanced with? What can you buy with money? Will you have a tradeoff between items and equipment, or do you naturally have enough to get everything? As in - if you just go through the dungeon with no backtracking whatsoever, what can you buy with that money?
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
Questions that come to mind:

  • Are Potions are the only method in the game to heal?


  • If there are other methods, would the party feasibly gain access to them before fighting that boss?


  • If another method exists, how effective is that other method versus just using Potions?
I think I will answer your first questions with my current project in the scope.
You will only need potions to survive the battles in the beginning, until you get a healing spell. However, depending on your strategy, they are meant mostly as handy helpers. There are healing spots on the way to the first boss. One in the beginning of the area and then the classical, and kinda tired, cliché of a healing crystal before the first boss.
However, mana and magic is a thing, but mana restoration is pretty non-existent except the healing spots mentioned. At least in the beginning. Mana restoratives can be purchased at certain stores, but I tend to make them expensive.

Skills should be advised to use, since only attacking foes can get really boring. However, and I'm not sure that I should do this, I have an idea of letting players turn on/off battles. Bravely Default style. It's just a thing I'm planning because I don't want the random battles get too tedious by their appearance all the time.

Then to add in the discussion about games overall (mostly RPG), I mostly use healing spells when walking through a dungeon and I rarely use items.
Maybe I should do vice versa and save the mana and use items as I walk along the next destination. However, that depends on if the games has healing spots. If not, I will probably use items more than mana, of course.

Another thing is how much a potion heals you. A potion in a Final Fantasy game, mostly, doesn't heal you that much. A little bit on the good side in the beginning, but pretty useless in the later part of the game. My potions restores 40% of max HP and the two characters starting HP is around 55-70. Since no healing spells are available at the time then, Potions is the only way for you to heal except the healing spots.
Sunflower Games
The most beautiful user on RMN!
13284

Auto heal after every battle, having healing spells, no potions needed.
author=kory_toombs
Auto heal after every battle, having healing spells, no potions needed.


That's one alternative. But shouldn't it be a safe thing for the player if she/he knew that "if my MP runs low in this battle, I can use my potions?". Depends on the length of the battle, I guess.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
It depends on how much each individual player sucks. And/or how much they have a tendency to hoard objects.

This is the kind of question that doesn't have a really general answer applicable across the board; it's better to ask it during playtesting.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4690
I've learned that at least the survival type games I predominantly make is the each player is different, like Sooz said.
I found that some people hoarded items and then died and wondered why, because like you your items, homie! That is why they are there.
But then I found players who played well and didn't have to use them all the time and always had a safety to fall back on in dire situations. But pretty much used items when they needed them outside of combat when it made sense.

Everyone is different in that aspect, and I don't try to put much stock into trying to balance that anymore. Aim for the average player with items so things are doable but you have to strike a fine balance between flooding the player with items they'll never use and depriving them of items that would remedy sticky situations.
author=kory_toombs
Auto heal after every battle, having healing spells, no potions needed.


He may not want to go that route; in many games, resource management outside of combat adds another level of gameplay.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
author=Feldschlacht IV
author=kory_toombs
Auto heal after every battle, having healing spells, no potions needed.
He may not want to go that route; in many games, resource management outside of combat adds another level of gameplay.


Nah mang there is objectively one best gameplay style, and that style is whatever I like most.
Make potions heal 1 HP and give the player 5,000 of them. I guarantee this cannot possibly go wrong.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
There's the possibility of limiting item capacity. Whither this takes the form of only being able to carry 50 copies of any given item, or an absolute total of 50 items, I guess it would largely depend on what kind of game one is trying to make.

*Edit: Er, this is a bit off-track, isn't it?
Limit the amount of potions you can carry and force the player to put back any extras if they are carrying the maximum limit. Hoarders will actually use the potions instead of letting them rot. Completionists will use the items just to get the chest opened. And normal players will be unaffected because they already won't have a max inventory.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
author=Chilly-Pheese-Steak
Hoarders will actually use the potions instead of letting them rot.


Speaking as a hoarder, this is absolutely not the case.
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
I will never use them because what if I need them later? I know this is the final boss and it's one turn away from dying and I'm at 6 HP, but I should still use magic instead of items to heal. What if on its final turn it heals itself back to full, silences my healing magic, reduces me to 1 HP and 0 MP, and steals 98 of my elixirs? If that happens and I used an elixir earlier in the battle, I'll be sorry! (And even if that does happen, I still won't use it, because game overs are an infinitely renewable source of free healing, and what if something EVEN WORSE happens later?)

Having the potions available makes the game a lot less frustrating though, even if I never use them. I know they're there, so when I die because I want to save them for later, it feels like my fault instead of the game's. But you only really need like 3 potions in the player's inventory to accomplish this. Too many just makes me feel unchallenged; each potion is a mistake that I can make that the game will forgive.
author=Sooz
author=Chilly-Pheese-Steak
Hoarders will actually use the potions instead of letting them rot.
Speaking as a hoarder, this is absolutely not the case.

If the game is good, then it'll properly punish your for this by leaving you to die.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
29202
Sooz
Chilly-Pheese-Steak
Hoarders will actually use the potions instead of letting them rot.
Speaking as a hoarder, this is absolutely not the case.


Often very early in any RPG, I tend to max out the kernels for the item slots pretty quickly. 99 or 255 potions, 99 or 255 antidotes and so on...it's because I'm not using them.
I'm also a hoarder and I only use consumables if save-scumming fails to get me through.

An idea I heard once was to have a limited number of potion bottles the party can carry, but they can be refilled at fountains scattered around the maps. This lets you collect them all and still use them. But it still doesn't address the issue of knowing when you should use them.
I think it's a pretty bad philosophy to work your game around the dozen or so uber-hoarders though; they're either get frustrated or quit, or save scum anyway. I don't think that's a good enough reason to really figure them into the big picture though, no offense, hoarders!
Sunflower Games
The most beautiful user on RMN!
13284

You can also solve the MP problem by regaining MP by guarding.
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