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Keeping potions useful

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What kind of ways are there to have all restorative potions (the ones in tiers like Minor Hp potion to Greater Hp potion) be useful at all points in the game while still making higher tier potions worth it?

 

My first idea:

Have them restore a percentage of the users max health but add a state that prevents them from using another potion of the same for around X turns. This way you can't spam potions over a couple of turns to reach max health while still having large bonuses to health. Though this affects the strategy around using potions a lot more, could be good or bad.

 

My second idea:

Have them restore a set amount of the stat and provide a stronger regen the for the weaker potions.

So as Immediate gain is higher the regeneration afterwards is slower. Though the regen might be much more useful than any immediate gain.

 

My third idea:

Have all potions be a dice roll of gains with higher quality potions having a better chance of healing more. I'm kind of leaning away from this one as it makes even stronger potions unreliable.

 

There is crafting in the project if that factors in. I haven't touch on potions with it yet.

 

Thanks for the help in advance.

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Percentage is the best way. Set HP potions tend to become very obsolete very fast or overpowered for a good chunk of the game. Other stats work best as percentages. That's the way stats other than HP and MP are buffed in the system by default.

 

Personally, I don't think the most minor potions should be effective late in the game. Even if they heal a percentage, they won't be. Sure you can spam 5 HP pots at 10% to heal someone halfway, but that requires five actions by the player as opposed to just one with a better potion. That kind of system naturally balances itself without any added restrictions. That frees up the player to do anything else they need to do. I'm assuming there is some sort of level or ingredient requirement that makes the better pots harder to make and not until further into the game. That will balance itself, too. 

 

Is crafting the only way to get these potions? If you're worried about spamming, making them harder to obtain will force the player use them wisely. 

 

I do like the third idea. It's a nice little wrinkle in the system and adds a touch of realism. Every potion the character crafts isn't going to be perfect so having varying outputs makes it feel more like someone is actually making them and not an automated system. You could even have certain equipment or passive skills that increase the chances of getting a better boost. 

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I believe in World of Warcraft, Rogues had a talent that could increase the healing gained from sources including potions.

 

If you have crafting, it might be simple just to craft bigger potions from smaller potions.  That would make smaller potions be useful as an ingredient.

 

Also, in Final Fantasy XV, Potions only heal for 50% (as opposed to Elixirs that recover max HP and Hi-Potions that recover 100%), but they are required for mini-quests where you come upon an injured Hunter.  

 

So there are my three opinions:  Either a passive that improves healing from potions or a catalyst for a quest/crafting.

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Percentage is always the best route to go. If your minor potions restore 25% HP and your greater potions restore 75% with something in the middle at 50%, then you don't need anything else.

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Percentage is the best way. Set HP potions tend to become very obsolete very fast or overpowered for a good chunk of the game. Other stats work best as percentages. That's the way stats other than HP and MP are buffed in the system by default.

 

Personally, I don't think the most minor potions should be effective late in the game. Even if they heal a percentage, they won't be. Sure you can spam 5 HP pots at 10% to heal someone halfway, but that requires five actions by the player as opposed to just one with a better potion. That kind of system naturally balances itself without any added restrictions. That frees up the player to do anything else they need to do. I'm assuming there is some sort of level or ingredient requirement that makes the better pots harder to make and not until further into the game. That will balance itself, too. 

 

Is crafting the only way to get these potions? If you're worried about spamming, making them harder to obtain will force the player use them wisely. 

 

I do like the third idea. It's a nice little wrinkle in the system and adds a touch of realism. Every potion the character crafts isn't going to be perfect so having varying outputs makes it feel more like someone is actually making them and not an automated system. You could even have certain equipment or passive skills that increase the chances of getting a better boost. 

That's a really good point, have potions be much rarer than typical which suits my project perfectly (no/few humanoid enemies, or otherwise enemies that would make sense to have potions) making crafting needed to get them in any reasonable amount. Also having the player sacrifice gold for passives or equipment stats to get the higher bonus is a great incentive.

 

Maybe a dice roll of percentages say a chance of getting 10% 20% or 30% health back and the amounts and chances of the higher %s increase with the better quality? With equipment bonuses on top.

 

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I'm using a percentage system as well as a crafting system so thought i'd toss my concept in.

 

My game doesnt give u gold drops so money is valuable.

 

My potions do like 25, 50 and 75% recovery with an elixr found rarely that recovers 100%, as ell as mana.

 

My craft system also lets u make pots using materials found through forage(herbs) and enemy drops (slime, batwing ect.). This means u have to explore and hunt to get materials to make a potion. The higher the level the harder enemies get and the loner materials take to respawn.

 

Materials and potents are also buyable however the higher the item the more it costs and money is hard to get so higher level items become more important and shouldnt be spammed or wasted.

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Hmm, one direction that isn't being explored here is to remove tiers entirely making balancing them unnecessary; by making only a single potion item it will always be coveted.

 

Another way to approach this would be to set different capacity's for each item (eg. twenty weak potions and five strong potions) and/or increasing the cost of buying/making a potion in correlation with the current amount in the inventory.

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Hmm. On the basis of a single potion, how about;

 

Potion is 10 * actor.level?

That way, as the player progresses, the potion kinda levels with them? It's similar to percentages, but a bit less static.

 

I know there is also a paramater that increases the "pharmacy recovery" attribute so using that on certain accessories or equipment (or even a "level up" item) can help increase it's potency as the game progresses. 

 

Having a "level up" item is essentially a consumable that an actor can eat/drink and it increases there pharmacy level. You can have a designated healer by giving them all the items or balance it out so potions are useful in a strategic way.

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I didn't see this mentioned, but why not use something like luck times level? I mean, sure, I'm not directly sure how you aim to work with the potions, but that's how I work with some recovery items, giving them better potency with certain conditions. Variance could also swing a good or bad "roll," persay, as to how well they heal as well.

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I like both the above ideas. Pharmacology is something I haven't used too much as of yet. I do plan on making a skill or two for player characters that increases healing effects. it's a fun little parameter to play with. It's perfect for my Alchemist  :) 

 

I'm a fan of LUK in games, but it's often ignored or underutilized so it'd be nice to see a game that gives it some value. 

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It seems that the 2 biggest concerns are either

1. Spammability

If you fear they will spam it in combat, don't forget that it still costs an action to use the potion, so even if they have plentiful potions , it still costs them a turn.

If your game is resource management and attrition heavy, and spamming of potions outside of combat is a problem to you, I would suggest limiting the amount of potions a player can have on him at any time, with maybe a stash in towns to store potions.

2. Obsoloscence

Which is easily solved by making it a % of MHP (maybe + luck) healed.

 

We also have to compare to the players other healing options.

Is there a healing spell / recovery move in the game, how much does that one heal ? How many times can that one be used between rests ?

 

The  main advantage in a potion is that it can be used by anyone, so I believe it should be slightly weaker then the healers heal spell, either in amount of targets or amount healed, but it should scale about the same amount.

 

I did things a bit different for my game :

  • I made my basic healing spells free and a little better then a potion
  • I heal to max hp (not mp) after each combat
  • I keep MP costs high and max MP low, but MP recovery in combat easy. 
  • I balanced my game so each encounter poses a significant threat if not handeled intelligently
  • Everyone can toss a potion , bu tsome use them as a cost for their skills

This might not be for everyone, but I would rather have every combat be challenging, within reason, than playing potion manager.

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I made mine relevant with tiers (3 different kinds) that heal for less than my samely tiered healing spells. This way, there's more incentive to use MP, but if you're out, potions do in a pinch.

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I have 4 tiers for HP/MP potions. The last one restores 100%. I'm still deciding whether to make them available in shops for a very high price or strictly through enemy drops and crafting. I'm leaning towards the latter because I don't want them to be too easy to get, and they'd be one of if not the highest level crafting potions. ( I don't have separate crafting levels. They're learned by level up.) A couple bosses drop them so far, too. 

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I have 4 tiers for HP/MP potions. The last one restores 100%. I'm still deciding whether to make them available in shops for a very high price or strictly through enemy drops and crafting. I'm leaning towards the latter because I don't want them to be too easy to get, and they'd be one of if not the highest level crafting potions. ( I don't have separate crafting levels. They're learned by level up.) A couple bosses drop them so far, too. 

I'd say latter, so that way the player hs to work for them.

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The current way I have potions set up for my project are like this.

 

1. The standard potion which restores 500 hp to one target.

1b. An advanced combat potion that you steal or have drop from enemies for a portion of the game which restores 700 health to the party. The enemies that drop it will no longer be available after some time, which makes them scarce. By the time they are phased out, you should have a competent healer class for the party.

2. The standard hi potion which restores 1500 health to one target.

2b. A version of the hi potion which can only be used in combat that restores 1000 health and gives a health regen effect for five times.

3. The elixir which only comes from chests, rare enemies and the casino for a hefty price. It comes with a two turn cooldown to prevent spamming.

 

I don't have an x/mega potion that recovers your hp to full because I didn't want an easy out in combat so readily available. My project does have cooking, which eventually you'll be able make advanced dishes in order to create food to give you unique buffs for combat. I tried keeping healing items as relevant as I could with that in mind. I also have a variety of crafted potions that mimic the spellblade skills that buff elemental resistance and add that element to your attacks.

Edited by Guyver

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Potions are always useful... at least between battles. Cheap crappy ones that only restore 50 hp? Buy 99 of them and wildly use them after every battle. Have more powerful versions? Great! Now you can carry more total hp! I mean unless your timeout status works outside of battle too, which is entirely possible, though I think statuses need 5 or so steps before it counts as one 'round'. How that timeout is meant to work I am not sure, I don't think there is an easy way to forbid you to use particular items by statuses.

 

Of course chugging gallons of cheep potions after every battle might not be the kind of 'useful' you had in mind. Honestly though, I am more worried about potions being too useful. The whole thing where you end up buying up stacks of potions to power through whatever kind of challenge you are facing seems a bit silly to me. It's especially silly in Action RPGs. I rather like how in Zelda you only have x number of bottles, but still.

 

Alternatively some RPGs kinda get rid of HP recovery items all together. I kinda like the way most of the SaGa games approach healing actually... In effect, you always restored HP after every battle (but kept LP loss, but that's another matter) and healing was only ever useful in battle or to recover MP (well, really WP/JP/whatever). There used to be healing items in the series, but they were only useful in battle and the big limitation was they had to actually be equipped so you could only use a few per battle, which kinda made them pointless because you could just use spells instead. Eventually HP restoring items kinda vanished from the series as a result. Not the best system maybe, but it's interesting.

 

But I guess all that can be ignored for now because it seems you want to focus on the problem of lower tier potions effectively becoming obsolete (in battle at least) when better ones are available. Okay that's fair, but you might as well ask the same thing about skills and equipment. There is a tendency for a lot of RPGs (especially JRPGs maybe) to do that. I kinda like the idea of weaker potions meaning you have less health right away but more in the long run after regeneration though.

Edited by KilloZapit

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^^ I finally got around to playing Dragon Age Inquisition. In that series you can only carry a limited number of potions at a time. I think that;s really the best way to balance potions out. I've played several games that use that, It forces the player to be smart about when to use them. The downside is the possibility of putting the player in a bad spot. Like entering a huge boss battle with little or few healing items. To me, that's part of the challenge of an RPG though. If you got yourself in that situation, it;s your fault for sucking at planning and/or batting effectively. 

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I don't think it's necessarily bad game design when potions become obsolete. Players feel great when they can finally move up to Hi-potions and later to X-potions.

 

My favorite item balancing system is from the SMT series. Shin Megami Tensei IV and SMTIV Apocalypse gave you limited space in your bag for the powerful restoratives (like 'fully heal entire party' or 'restore tons of MP to party'). This encourages the player to keep using these items throughout the game, instead of hoarding them for the final boss or something.

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