HOW MANY POTIONS DO YOU REALLY NEED?

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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
To me, planning and preparation are a major part of RPG gameplay. They occupy so much of the player's time and thought, with things like skill trees and gold rationing and equipment upgrades and stat choices. And collecting consumable items for future use is part of that. What you think of as a rare type of player, I just think of as the kind of person who likes the gameplay in RPGs.

I know there are several other major parts of RPG gameplay too, and that there are players who like RPGs for the sense of progression or for the tactical combat or something else, and only like them DESPITE the focus on preparation and not because of it. But I still can't help but think of them as the aberrations, not the hoarders.
And I enjoy that too, but potion management is just one aspect of gameplay in RPGs, hell, it's even just one management of item management (which is again a subset of resource management). Taking away potion management isn't taking away resource management.

There's more than one way to go!
Basically there are a lot of different approaches possible. Depends on if your system is based on preservation or "each battle is a challenge".

Bad:
- Making potions a limited resource and then still require them for boss battles, so you can effectively get stuck
- Making potions worse than healing spells, in that case they will simply never be used and seem pointless
- Making MP so limited that you are never using spells other than to heal and during boss battles -> makes battle boring (even if you can recover a few MP by guarding, if you have to guard every second turn, it's just as boring)

Interesting approaches:
- Healing spells are very weak, often it's better to just stay offensive in combat rather than healing up, potions heal much more but are a limited resource
- Put a very low item limit (like 5-20) but make it possible to always replenish them at a certain point
- Full or partial auto-recovery after combat (HP and MP)

Don't be stuck in the old RPG ways, try something new.


Random idea:

Imagine a world where everybody who runs out of potions will automatically be teleported back to town (make a reason like... your guardian angel appears and transports you back). In that world, you also have to drink a potion after every battle, no choice. The potion fully recovers your HP and about as much MP you need for a normal random encounter, let's say 20%. You can get a certain amount of potions in town, the limit you get in town increases as you level up. There are treasure chests that contain potions too. If you ever run out of potions and the guardian angel gets you, these treasure chests are filled with potions again. In combat you have healing spells but they only heal a little HP. You can use a potion in combat too to fully recover, but that means you will lose 2 potions for that combat (the one used in combat and the one used after combat), meaning you can't venture as far. There are doors in the world that only open if you have enough potions on you (they are not used up). This way you can control that players only enter places they could actually clear. Build the whole lore around it.
Potions shouldn't be "life or death-necessary" according to me. I think they, at times, can serve as a retry for the player.
"Oh, I screwed up and took damage, but thanks to this bottle of Retry Juice, I can try another strategy perhaps". Especially if you feel that way and don't want to waste your MP. MP is mostly precious after all (in my experience). But, that depends on the battle system too, I guess.
i prefer not to use potions (and items) in a game.

- you don't have to limit the amount of potions. just let a merchant sell it so the player can hoard them as many as they want.

- make potions restore more HP than healing spell.

- try to find a way to restore MP. if you are making a game which is spell dependent with no way to restore MP, i'd rather 1) let the characters do normal attack when they run out of MP or 2) let the spell based characters defend every turn (except in important battles) to conserve MP (if there are other no spell based characters).
imo, this is what's happening in almost every RPG Maker game i played, which makes mp based characters not enjoyable. having an item or passive which restores MP for each turn is a good idea.
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
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!


I feel like "You're playing games wrong" is not a good way to approach game development in general. Especially if it involves a sizeable enough subgroup that everyone's familiar with the behavior.

Like, I am OK with saying, "This game or my games in general don't cater to this style," but in a general discussion topic like this, just going, "Well, fuck those guys, they're doin it rong," is just kind of lazy.

Of course, my opinion, as stated earlier, is that there's no single solution to the question of healing item availability, and the idea that there's one perfectly balanced, Platonic ideal game setup out there is ridiculous and limiting.
I'm a big fan of the "Healing potions are uncommon but outclass healing spells" idea. I remember Wild Arms 3 did this very well by making consumables heal about five times as much as spells did, and the draw was that they were a near-finite resource: You couldn't purchase them at all. One character even had an ability that spread the healing item's effect to the whole party (still only consuming one) making them even more valuable.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
20691
Darigaaz, the Mystic ability from Wild Arms! I totally forgot about that!

*Edit: Though, I recall Wild Arms 3 having something of a farming sub-system where you could grow Heal Berries, Potion Berries, Mini Carrots, Full Carrots, and what-not. I don't quite remember where in the game this opens up, though. I'm pretty sure it requires horses to jump over a ravine, which, in turn, means visiting... Claiborne, is it?
author=Sooz
author=Feldschlacht IV
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!
I feel like "You're playing games wrong" is not a good way to approach game development in general. Especially if it involves a sizeable enough subgroup that everyone's familiar with the behavior.

Like, I am OK with saying, "This game or my games in general don't cater to this style," but in a general discussion topic like this, just going, "Well, fuck those guys, they're doin it rong," is just kind of lazy.

Of course, my opinion, as stated earlier, is that there's no single solution to the question of healing item availability, and the idea that there's one perfectly balanced, Platonic ideal game setup out there is ridiculous and limiting.

I don't quite mean it so harsh, but there is such a thing as "You're playing this game wrong". It's best to make a game that caters to different playstyles as much as you can, but often it's even better to zero in on the particular game you want to make, and do it well. Some players who can't adapt may get left out, but that's okay.

For example with the hoarders thing, in a game like Dark Souls, if you're such a hoarder that you never use potions, that's effectively a death sentence. If you're that type of gamer and you're playing that type of game, you're just playing the wrong game and that game isn't for you. Either adapt your playstyle, get really good to overcome it, or play a different game.

Overall, I feel a lot of games are taking the 'every playstyle gets a chance!' thing a bit too far and as a result are getting super easy. I much rather like the idea of 'adapt or die', (that doesn't mean there's only one way to play) because it forces me to approach challenges in a way that develops my skills and uh, actually get good.
author=Kalin
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 should use the healing items when I have to, as in, I risk a game over if don't. One RM game I've recently played limits you to ten healing items and they restore 50% of your max HP. So, use them when someone has less than 50% of their HP left. Pretty easy actually. Attack items should be used when the situation is such that they offer a huge benefit over not using them. I have seen that happen in games, but only very rarely. More often than not, there simple isn't a situation where a non healing item is more beneficial than otherwise.

So, for most games, just tag every non healing item with "use whenever or don't even bother, doesn't matter" and tada, you've informed the player of when to use them. More often than not, that's the real issue.

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 like to think of consumable items as mistake forgiveness. When I balance battles, there are things the player is supposed to figure out to do in order to win, and one of the things I think about is how many times I'm willing to allow them to make mistakes and do the wrong thing before they lose the fight. If they get a game over after just one mistake, the game seems brutally hard, but if they can recover from any mistake, then there's no challenge. If the player can only recover HP using infinitely reusable abilities, then it's a lot more difficult to make the number of allowable mistakes be anywhere between 1 and infinity, and even harder to actually calculate that number.

So I make potions and revival items that are vastly more effective than any of the player's spells. And then I balance enemies so that if the player responds correctly to the enemies' actions, they can stay alive using only magic spells, but if they mess up, they usually need items to recover.

Each healing item recovers from one mistake. If you have 5 revival potions, you can mess up 5 times.

To keep a lid on how many times the player can recover, I usually limit the maximum number of items you can carry. Some games let you carry 99 of each item, but with the way I treat items, a limit of 3 or 5 or 10 works better, depending on how many different types of items there are. If there are 8 types of healing items, you want a lower limit per item than if there are only 2 types.

(None of this applies to MP recovery items, which are much more about resource management. You can treat HP recovery items as resource management too, especially in games with very few healing spells... I just don't.)
What about chests that give a variable amount of potions.

If I have more than 10 potions, chest = 1 potion
If I have less than 10 potions, chest = 2 potions
If I have 3 or less potions, chest = 3 potions

That's a simple example. 3 doesn't have to be the max amount received, but if the player receives too much then it's basically hand holding.

But even this method is kind of flawed since the player can still just hoard all his potions without ever using them. One solution is to use events that fix the potion count to exactly 10 at the start of each dungeon and back to 0 when the dungeon is complete. Combine that with the above method and voila.
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
Hmm, that would create sort of a soft cap. Which is an idea I often see with stats, but not with inventory size. It's unusual and so I'd definitely do some playtesting to make sure it doesn't cause unexpected behavior in players, but I can't think of any reason off-hand why it wouldn't work.
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