Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Breath of Death VII and HP

Short post today, my time is being eaten up by job hunting and contract adjustments this week.
I started playing a fun little indie game this past Sunday as an effort to recharge my batteries as I was taking another crack at assembling the core rules.  If you enjoy RPG's of the 8bit and 16bit era this is entirely up your alley.  It is a homage but done with modern design intent so that you get to skip all the nonsensical and slow grinding (plus after enough random encounters you are considered to scare the rest off with your mighty prowess). 

There are also some fine twists on classic crpg fare, Boolean choice level ups being my favorite.  One thing that has been bothering me though is the way the HP system is handled.  Mostly because it is how I use to handle HP in my games before I ditched it for something else.

At the end of each battle the party is fully healed to maximum HP, and regains a number of MP depending on how quickly you end the battle.  You can blow MP to make the battle end very quickly and gain more MP, just be sure not to overdo it and conserve when you can.  Once you get to a point where you can't toss around MP all willy nilly you can expect to have a bad time with what were once simple encounters.  That's not my main concern, my concern is with constant refreshing of HP.

I get the impression this was a design goal meant to speed things up a bit, typically after a battle the player would waste time clicking through menus to heal up his party.  I can respect getting rid of that but doing it this way opens up some problems.  First of all, dungeons no longer test your endurance.  Without having to heal between battles (and using up resources) you no longer have to keep an eye on your MP, or total casts of heal left (depending on your system).  This means that you can fight almost indefinitely, your only limit being the aforementioned MP.  This is quite similar to 4e design, and while it works for 4e in some ways each battle is meant to be a massive set piece where success or failure is riding on the PC's (there's plenty more to that to be argued for or against but I'm not getting into either side).  Essentially, the battles are self contained, when you translate that an old game like Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy where each battle is meant to sap your strength rather than decide the fate of the temple/forest/world; it seems silly.  I found myself repeatedly stomping all over encounters and breezing through the game until the designated hard spot.

While I appreciate the design intent I'm afraid this isn't the right system for it.  Still a worthy game to try out and fantastic soundtrack to boot.  Before I post about an excerpt on how I handle HP I want to revisit Dark Souls for an HP and Adventuring post.

If you are in the mood for an excellent analysis on old school console game design I cannot recommend this article highly enough.

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