Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three-numbers attributes

A lot of depth and realism is lost in games due to the ability of just anybody to recover from near-mortal wounds; or for an exhausted person to be perfectly rested again after very little time. Attributes like health, stamina, mana and whatnot are fine for showing the immediate effects of their decrease, but fail somewhat short of realism for natural (or supernatural) recovery. As such, I propose the use of a three-numbers attribute system : immediately available, short-term recovery, and maximum (or long-term recovery).

Instead of showing attributes as current / maximum, they would be displayed as current / short-term / maximum. Short-term, in this case, is the amount to which the current attribute can easily recover; for example, if stamina shows 45 / 90 / 100, current stamina will naturally recover up to 90, then stay there until the short-term stamina increases.

This can be used to work with any attribute. A slash from a sword, for example, would not be quickly naturally healed, and would deal most of its damage on short-term recovery, prevent easy healing; a lash from a whip, on the other hand, can cause quite a lot of pain, but little actual physical damage - it would recover naturally, given enough time, making whip combat quite different from regular combat - and that's not even considering the value of pain. The various forms of health recovery would differentiate themselves, among other things, by their ability to deal with short-term and long-term wounds. Both would have their uses, and being short on one could be as devastating as being short on the other.

Stamina, on the other hand, would be something more of a long-term resource; the more you use it, the least you have later on. If you've been fighting (or crafting) all day long, you're likely to feel the toll. Your swings are weaker, your reflexes slower, and suddenly, climbing that hill doesn't seem like such an easy task after all. You'll be sitting, after another exhausting event, and watch as your available stamina makes its way back to the again-decreased short-term amount, wondering if now would be a good time to check your supplies, or perhaps sneak a little afternoon nap, hoping no nasty makes its way to your location in the mean time. If you are a crafter, you might want to consider calling it a day after the sixth time you dropped your instrument, and perhaps head to the local drinking establishment and kick back with fellow artisans after a day well spent.

And while we're at it, why not have short-term and long-term mana usage? Depending on the spell used, a magician's powers could be depleted for long-term or short-term; casting lots of smaller spells in quick succession, for example, would decrease the short-term mana pool but leave the long-term pool mostly untouched, while attempting word-shattering evocations would leave a magician looking forward to a day filled with very few spells. Abilities could be acquired which would allow to used more short-term or more long-term mana in a spell, allowing for magic usage tailored to the immediate needs of the wizards and sorcerers.

Should any other attributes be used, they might likewise be interpreted on the three-numbers scale. Morale? Sure thing. Concentration? Certainly. Rage? Perhaps, though it would likely start empty, and build up as the fight progresses. Intimidation? Nature affinity? Zen? They could all work, if implemented right. And what's more, there's little to lose but simplicity to the three-numbers system, and a bit of complexity would certainly be a small price to pay for the myriad improvements this could add to the average MMORPG.