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  Damage Types in RPGs and Roguelikes  (Read 5258 times)
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Offline Varkas
« Posted 2013-12-11 22:40:15 »

For my latest RPG attempt, I've been pondering what sorts of damage types to include, and how many.

From other games, I remember quite a long list:

- fire
- ice/cold
- lightning
- poison
- acid/corrosion/disintegration
- confusion/chaos
- slow/paralyze/freeze
- sound
- light/dark
- nether
- fear/terror

What would you do? Use all? Only a subset? And if a subset, what would you use?

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Offline ctomni231

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« Reply #1 - Posted 2013-12-11 23:32:42 »

Usually elements are the most common. So I'd use a subset.

- fire
- ice
- lightning
- wind
- poison (maybe)

It is less about type and more about variety, as if you face the same enemy over and over again, things will get dull. Pokemon is actually a very good example of this, as there was no such thing as the "strongest attack". Everything had a strength and weakness, and it made the game more challenging to make a balanced team. As long as you don't get completely screwed over if you are a fire mage facing off an ice elemental, the game is usually engaging enough to keep interest.

Offline HeroesGraveDev

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« Reply #2 - Posted 2013-12-12 01:43:40 »

I think the more different methods of gameplay, the better, BUT only if other elements of gameplay allow for good replayability.

No point having 10 fun different ways of playing the game if you only want to play it once or twice due to other aspects of gameplay being boring.

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Offline Rayexar

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2013-12-12 12:15:38 »

What about different subsets together, like elemental (fire, water, lightning etc), and effect or whatever it's called (stun, poison, confuse etc). So you can have a weapon which does water and stun damage.
Offline Varkas
« Reply #4 - Posted 2013-12-13 11:18:16 »

I'll got the Diablo II way with items, so items can have a big number of mods. No problem to have e.g. frost damage and stun on the same weapon, even if there are no groups.

Poison is a very tricky thing, since it has a "rate", that is damage per time-interval, and I never could make up my mind how to merge poison damage from different sources. E.g. if the player is poisoned by two different types of poison, with different damage rate and duration ... maybe I'll leave poison out for "technical problems".

At the moment I think I'll include 3 or 4 elemental damages in my new RPG attempt, and fear and confusion.


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Offline UtilityFrog

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Medals: 1



« Reply #5 - Posted 2013-12-17 04:36:26 »

This is of course only my 2 cents, but I think you should start by deciding what mechanical effect you want to achieve by having varying damage types in the game. Do I want this damage type to slow or immobilise or incapacitate the enemy, or apply a DOT, or teleport the enemy away, etc. Once you've decided on the mechanics you want to include you can decide on an appropriate theming for them (e.g. DOT's are usually represented as "Poison" or "Fire" (although fire usually does some direct damage as well)). Having lots of different damage types that appear superficially different but are not mechanically distinct isn't particularly interesting IMO.
Offline Varkas
« Reply #6 - Posted 2013-12-17 13:53:04 »

Chaos and fear are two which I have planned to have effects beyond just delivering damage, both will influnce the amount of control that the player has about their PC.

The other are just mini games, to be sure the equipment matches the dangers - e.g. don't visit the viper pit without good poison resistance. Lacking the proper resistances will close some areas of the game, or makes them very hard.

I don't know what DOT stands for, this makes understanding your message a bit difficult. Also I'm not sure what you mean by "mechanical effect" and what other effects there could be but mechanical ones. Angnabd has gravity hounds which can displace a PC, that clearly is a jmechanical effect, but likely not the one you meant Wink

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Offline Jimmt
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« Reply #7 - Posted 2013-12-17 17:02:18 »

DOT = damage over time
Offline Mac70
« Reply #8 - Posted 2013-12-17 18:08:45 »

More damage types = better, but each of them must have special characteristics - otherwise, adding many damage types is pointless. Smiley

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #9 - Posted 2013-12-17 23:10:59 »

but each of them must have special characteristics

cold (ice) -> slow, I think I'll use that.

In some games electricity (lightning) damages magic rings and metallic wands. I'm not sure if this is good or just annoying to the player. Same for fire - in some games it burns scrolls and books.

The red dragon breathes fire!
Your linen backback burns!
Your items drop to the ground!
Two scrolls of satisfy hunger are burned.
One scroll of word of recall is burned.
Your book "magic for beginners" is on fire.


Ok, the backpack usually is fire proof in those games. But to me burned scrolls and such were always very annoying.

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Offline Mac70
« Reply #10 - Posted 2013-12-17 23:51:20 »

In my opinion combo attacks should improve replayability, especially if game allows for unexpectable, but still balanced combinations - just look at magic system in Magicka. The whole game is based on this concept and it is really popular. Smiley

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Offline Jimmt
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« Reply #11 - Posted 2013-12-18 00:38:28 »

I liked the Skyrim system; fire = extra damage over time, ice = deplete stamina (slower attack speed/move speed), and lightning = deplete magicka/mana.
Offline UtilityFrog

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Medals: 1



« Reply #12 - Posted 2013-12-18 11:09:11 »

I don't know what DOT stands for, this makes understanding your message a bit difficult. Also I'm not sure what you mean by "mechanical effect" and what other effects there could be but mechanical ones. Angnabd has gravity hounds which can displace a PC, that clearly is a jmechanical effect, but likely not the one you meant Wink

Sorry, as Jimmt said DOT == Damage Over Time. Usually something like poison.

And the example you gave is actually exactly what I meant by "mechanical effect"  Smiley. I could have said "game mechanic". I was mainly trying to draw a distinction between "game mechanics", which are the rules that govern the events that can happen in a game, and what you might call the "theme" of a game mechanic (there might be a better word than "theme"), which is the visual/auditory/textual representation of the mechanic given to the player.

In the example you gave of gravity hounds, the mechanical effect would be "displace the PC", while the representation given to the player is the textual description and visual indication (i.e. the player's avatar is now somewhere else) of what has just happened.

So to answer your main question, I think you should add as many damage types as you can make fun or interesting. I don't think you should add damage types just because they exist in other games or in the real world unless you can find ways to give them interesting, useful and varied mechanical effects. I know that sounds a bit vague but I think games in general would be better off focusing far less on "simulationist" aspects (even if the thing you're "simulating" is a fantasy world) and instead prioritising solid gameplay systems.
Offline Varkas
« Reply #13 - Posted 2013-12-18 11:48:57 »

I liked the Skyrim system

magic system in Magicka. The whole game is based on this concept and it is really popular. Smiley

I clearly lack gaming experience. The games I know are old, and also few. The past ten or even 15 years, (since I started my professional career), there was little time to play games, daily and working on my hobby project took most of my free time. I never played Skyrim, and till this moment I had not even heard of Magicka.

I found the official Magicka page, but it doesn't explain much about the magic system used there. Are there online sources which explain it more in depth?

For my own game, I have settled with 6 damage types, where two are a bit unspecific.

- fire (not specified yet)
- lightning/shock (not specified yet)
- cold (slow)
- poison (damage over time and weakens the PC while poisoned)
- fear (PC runs away from the fearsome monster, without player control -> panic!)
- confusion/chaos (PC is hard to control, moves randomly, and ability to use devices of all sorts is limited).

Thanks for the answers, it helped to make up my mind Smiley


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Offline Mac70
« Reply #14 - Posted 2013-12-18 12:20:22 »

I found the official Magicka page, but it doesn't explain much about the magic system used there. Are there online sources which explain it more in depth?

http://magicka.gamepedia.com/Spell_Combinations

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Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #15 - Posted 2013-12-18 16:01:39 »

+1 to damage types needing to have a mechanical purpose within the game.

Another way to give them that purpose is to use different damage types to negate damage protection. For example, physical damage can be reduced/blocked with physical armor, but energy damage requires an energy shield, and viceversa.

The main purpose of such a system is to:
  • Make the game more varied by presenting the player with different challenges that their current gear cannot handle
  • Make opponents more interesting by giving them built-ibn weak points and immunities that players can exploit (say, fighting fire elementals with a fire sword would be futile)

Offline Varkas
« Reply #16 - Posted 2013-12-18 21:15:19 »


Very interesting, thanks for the link!

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Offline Axeman

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« Reply #17 - Posted 2013-12-19 01:50:30 »

Don´t forget about the ordinary stuff like blunt damage and piercing damage doing different damage to different monsters/armor. Or just bonus damage for different kinds of weapons. Like high dex + katana = more damage, high str + warhammer = more damage. And let´s not forget about weapon speed: do you like slow weapons with high damage/strike or a fast weapon with lower damage/strike but more strikes per second? These things can really make some interesting choices for a player with the plus side that you get to choose your own playstyle.

Why not combine damage bonus for stats and then have items giving elemental buffs for a limited time? Let´s say you have a character with high strengs and a big hammer. You get bonus damage because of the high strength but you´re facing a tough monster: Is this the time I waste a "fire item" to grant extra fire damage or is it better to save it for later? This will add a nice strategic touch to the different elemental damage types.
Offline Varkas
« Reply #18 - Posted 2013-12-19 12:39:37 »

In a former RPG attempt, I had distinguished impact, cutting and piercing damage. It turned out that the players had problems to tell which was particularly effective against the different sorts of enemies, and that switching weapons was cumbersome.

I think I'll use "slays" instead. A "sword of slay orc", an "axe of slay dragon" or an "hammer of slay undead" should make it clear what works well against what sort of foe. It still keeps the weapon switching problem, but if the game has areas of distintc enemies (orc caves, graveyard, dargon mountains), a player will know what sort of weapon to pick before the travel there.

Weapon/attack speed is a difficult question. In some games it made daggers for fighers the most effective weapon through a big part of the wgame, and this was kind of ridiculous. I want to have different weapon speeds, but it will need more thought to work out a good formula to prevent such oddities.



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Offline Axeman

Senior Member


Medals: 7



« Reply #19 - Posted 2013-12-19 13:24:10 »

I have to admit that slashing, piercing or blunt damage is the least attractive ideas of those I mentioned, but I thought I at least should point out that they exist so you don´t forget about the option. Smiley I do think though that it is important to have stats that mean something and in a hack n´ slash type of game I think that connecting damage bonus or magic to stats is the way to go. So increasing str och dex actually mean something in the game.

Regarding weapon speed you are absolutely correct: It means more work. The more parameters we throw into a game, the more balancing needs to be done. A quick dagger that beats the two handed sword thoughout the game is a lack of balance, but at the same time it´s kind of cool to actually be able to build a character that is so fast that he´s a ninja with a tiny weapon slashing through the game. I belive that RPG is about choice of playing style so it´s great to be able to play as lightning fast but weak or slow and heavy with massive damage.

In the end it´s all about the game mechanics: What works with the type of game you´re doing? Simple fast fun requiers something different that hard core with lots and lots of options.
Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #20 - Posted 2013-12-19 16:39:32 »

I think I'll use "slays" instead. A "sword of slay orc", an "axe of slay dragon" or an "hammer of slay undead" should make it clear what works well against what sort of foe.

If I may make a silly language suggestion, use the word "slayer", as in a sword that has the "Dragon Slayer" property.

Not only does it look good to the player, it also matches how the property could be implemented:

1  
swordItem.setProperty(PROPERTY_TYPE.SLAYER, PROPERTY_TARGET.DRAGON);


Again, just a silly aesthetic suggestion Smiley

Offline Varkas
« Reply #21 - Posted 2013-12-20 10:45:36 »

Item naming is a bit a question, too. The slay examples came from roguelikes, which used the <weapon of slay <type>> pattern.


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Offline Mac70
« Reply #22 - Posted 2013-12-20 14:35:21 »

Will names of items be constant or randomly generated?

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #23 - Posted 2013-12-20 17:33:06 »

At the moment I plan to have <prefix> <base name> <suffix> patterns for items with up two two modifiers ("sharp - sword - of fire tongue") and random names for the higher magic items. It bugs me that "exceptional - swift - battle axe - of cleaving" and such become awkwardly long, so more than one prefix or suffix seems to be too much in a name.

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Offline Rorkien
« Reply #24 - Posted 2013-12-20 17:45:07 »

You can make composite stats, like World of Warcraft used to do 3 expansions back, whereas you add 2 or more stats with a single prefix. I bet you will remember the "prismatic" prefix, which added +x to every resistance
Back in the day there were prefixes for everything, even for items that added strength and agility

Naming and mapping those would be fun as hell...
Offline Varkas
« Reply #25 - Posted 2013-12-25 22:33:33 »

Thinking about it, it came to my mind that even D2 has a few of such, there are some which add light + attack rating, faster run + slower stamina drain and one with life + mana.

Luckily I've not spent too much time on the coding yet, so I can adjust the design easily. Thanks for the hint!

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