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Status Effects in Unsung Story

design gameplay status effects

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Poll: How should status effects work in Unsung Story? (2 member(s) have cast votes)

How should status effects work in Unsung Story?

  1. Bonus Effects for Attacks/Skills (2 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  2. Major Effects with a low chance of Success (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Minor Effects with a high chance of Success (1 votes [25.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 25.00%

  4. I have another idea(s)! (Please post them!) (1 votes [25.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 25.00%

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#1 TacticalRPGFan



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Posted 28 March 2015 - 09:03 PM

Typically the player's goal in RPGs is to reduce their opponent's HP to zero, but in order to give the player more tactical options and thus create more gameplay depth many RPGs will feature a variety of status effects. These can help the player's going of depleting enemy HP, provide an alternate way to defeat opponents, or have other effects.


However, frequently status effects in RPGs are underwhelming. Since they may not directly advance a player's goal (defeating the opponent(s) ), the opportunity cost for using them often isn't worth it. Many RPGs suffer from thus issue. One the other hand, a less common but no less important consideration is that if a status effect is too effective it may become a dominant strategy and then gameplay loses strategic depth. With those things in mind, how do we want status effects to work in Unsung Story?


Here are 3 common ways RPGs have used status effects:


  • Status Effects added to other Skills/Attacks - A status effect in addition to other effects of an Attack or Skill. For example, an attack that does damage and also may poison the opponent. This avoids the problem of opportunity cost in choosing between damage and a status effect since the player can do both at once. The other effect doesn't have to necessarily be damage either, it can be anything else that's beneficial. This offers a wider variety of attacks and skills.
  • Major Status Effects with low chance of success - Oftentimes status effects will have a low chance of success, and if that's the case then their effect when they do succeed has to be major in order to give the player a reason to use them. An example of this is often instant death or equivalent effects.
  • Minor Status Effects with high chance of success - Opposite of the above, status effects with a more minor outcome need to have a high success rate in order to give the player a reason to use them. Even with a high success rate the effect has to be significant enough to overcome the opportunity cost of using other attacks or skills.

Out of the three, I think adding status effects to other skills or attacks handles the issues associated with using status effects the best. Again, this doesn't necessarily have to be an attack that does damage and also has the chance of applying a status effect, it just means status effects should not stand alone. What do you think?

  • Gesser, ThomasSn, Samuelki and 14 others like this

#2 TacticalRPGFan



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Posted 04 April 2015 - 08:44 PM

Apologies for the double post, but to expand on this topic I think in addition to discussing how status effects should be applied, it's also worthwhile to discuss what kind of status effects we want to see in Unsung Story.


Some status effects have become common, and are used across many different RPGs. Off the top of my head, these include:


  • Poison - HP decreases each turn. This is usually either a set amount or a percentage, but it can also be an increasing amount each turn.
  • Sleep - Cannot take action until awoken. Typically the character has a chance to wake up each turn, and is also awoken if attacked.
  • Paralysis/Stun - Cannot take action. Unlike sleep this typically does not go away if the character is attacked, but it may only last a turn or set amount of turns.
  • Silence - Cannot cast magic, or possibly use certain skills. Implementation varies depending on the magic/skill system of the game.
  • Confusion - Character takes random actions or fails to execute player commands.
  • Charm - Causes character to switch sides. Sometimes only lasts until the character is attacked, and when used on enemy units they may act as "Guest" characters for the player controlled by the UI instead of becoming fully player controlled.
  • Berserk - Can only attack, sometimes with a boost to attack stats (which may include a decrease to defense stats as well). Seen more often in traditional RPGs than Tactical RPGs, an implementation with a movement system might be "always attacks the closest unit."
  • Petrification - Character is turned to stone. This often acts as an alternate KO state.

However, in addition to common status effects I think it's always more interesting when games can come up with unique effects. Unique effects improve the tactical depth of the game because players will come up with new strategies to adapt to the new effects, rather than re-using strategies they've used in other games with the same effects.


What kind of unique status effects do we want to see in Unsung Story?


Here are some of my ideas:


  • Calcification - Character loses one movement per turn, when a character's movement hits 0 they are petrified. This is less effective than direct petrification so it can have a higher rate of success, and the changes in movement give the player a challenge to contend with.
  • Step Mine - Affected characters take damage with each space they move. This is similar to a Poison effect, but the player has more control over the impact which creates a more interesting tactical situation.
  • Vulnerability - FFT had a status effect "Oil" that made fire attacks more effective against affected characters. This kind of status effect can apply not just to fire attacks, but to any element or any other kind of classification of attacks/skills.
  • Disorder - Stats are switched randomly - Vitality stat might become Charisma, Charisma might become Dexterity, etc. This could theoretically be beneficial, but is more likely to be detrimental; and it will impact characters with balanced stats less than characters with min-maxed stats. I think this presents an interesting challenge to the player especially if it affects multiple units, since the player needs to adapt to the new tactical situation.
  • Curse - Effects that would increase HP or MP now decrease HP or MP the same amount for affected characters. This is an interesting status effect from a player perspective if players can apply it to enemies because it can make Healer-type units effective damage dealers, and likewise if enemies use it that player's tactical priorities could change (and it can be a good way for enemies to counter any player Regen-like healing over time effects).

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: design, gameplay, status effects

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