Issues and Solutions
We've come a long way from my very first battle system mockup from two years ago. With things like Damage over Time spells, the Ninja's "Five Point Exploding Heart Technique", and the various distinct status ailments, the game has definitely outgrown its NES-inspired roots.
What follows is a list of issues that I believe exist within the current battle system, and the solutions that this new system will provide for them:
Issue: In larger battles there are often so many different types of attacks and status ailments/buffs flying around that it's easy to lose track of things.
Solution: Most types of buffs and debuffs will now be represented by a small icon below an enemy's sprite on the battlefield, or next to a player's HP/MP readout. In the mockup on the left you see an example of an enemy with a ton of debuffs stacked on it, but in reality that will likely only happen during boss battles etc.
Furthermore, the height and width of the battle readout text menu has been increased dramatically. This will make text easier to read and allow multi-line readouts to be displayed onscreen for a bit longer.
Issue: Disconnects during battle count as a death towards the player.
Solution: When you're solo, the game will automatically save your battle mid-stream if you disconnect. Logging back in will place you right back in the middle of the battle.
In parties things get a bit trickier, and until we get to coding this stuff I won't know exactly what our solution will be. The ideal system would be to have the disconnected player's character remain in the battle as a placeholder - that way the player could log back in and rejoin the battle. If the battle finishes before the player relogs, the game would keep track of whether or not the party won or lost and log the disconnect as a death if appropriate.
I do have one message for the armchair developers out there who like to give me flak over the current setup: there is absolutely no way to tell whether or not a player logged out intentionally or was disconnected. If we could tell the difference then we obviously wouldn't be penalizing players for innocent disconnects.
At any rate, this wont be a problem for much longer.
Issue: Controlling battles using only the mouse can get tedious.
Solution: You will soon be able to assign different abilities to hotkeys for quick access in battle. You'll hit 1 through 0 to select the ability, then another hotkey to select your target. For those of you who prefer the mouse, clicking these hotkey buttons in the menu will also work.
In addition to that, the forthcoming option to switch over to full keyboard-only controls will also allow players to navigate battle menus etc. using the arrows keys (or a gamepad) for a more classic console RPG feel.
Issue: Random chance spells like Confuse, Headshot, Goodnight etc. work too often/not often enough, and are hard to protect against/power up.
Solution: As I revamp all of the stats in the game (see yesterday's blog post), my plan is to make how things work "under the hood" quite a bit more transparent. Part of that will be actually changing how all of the random chance abilities work by adding a new stat called "Luck". Luck will serve as both a buff for and protection against these types of abilities.
Tired of Clerics ruining you with Goodnight? Want your CoinFlip ability to proc more often? All you'll need is a little more Luck.
Let's be clear: the multiplayer aspect of NEStalgia is the core of the experience. This game has been and will continue to be focused on encouraging players to group up and work together. That said, I believe that making the solo experience easier and more enjoyable for players is very doable without diminishing (or making obsolete) the multiplayer side of things.
- Players will (likely) only be able to group with one monster companion at a time. Main storyline bosses may be the exception.
- Monster companions will not equip gear, but can be leveled up (and will learn new abilities as they level).
- Instead of controlling monster companions directly, the player will set the general tactics that the monster's AI will use during battle (Offensive, Defensive, Consume No MP, etc).
- Monsters will likely be shared and accessible by all of a player's characters.
- When grouping with other players, monster companions will not join the battle but instead bestow upon the player a passive stat boost or new ability.
To Be Continued...
When I have more information and screenshots related to any of this stuff, I'll be sure to share it. It is very likely that many of these battle system changes will be the first things that you start to see implemented in the coming months.
I know that I mentioned trying to get the podcast ready for today, but it will have to be later this week instead. Today's blog post ended up being waaaay longer than I planned. Check back tomorrow for the news that everyone has been waiting for: information on what the next content update be, and where NEStalgia's story is going from here!
Check out the previous entry in the "NEStalgia's Future" series here: NEStalgia's Future: The Basics