Sunday, 15 March 2015

Development Update #2 Healing!

I understand that there are some people who are anticipating a next release and probably aren't too fond of me just giving updates (rather than an actual release), but it's better than nothing and I'm sure there are those that would appreciate it. 

One of the areas of the game that has changed fairly significantly since the last update is the way healing is balanced. So for this update, that will be the topic of discussion.  

Healing Changes

After given a lot of thought, I felt that it would be appropriate to properly analyse healing and how it affects the game. Currently, the general power of healing is increased compared to the base game, since enemies generally do a lot more damage. In tougher fights, this meant enemies could kill you very quickly, but healing also very easily restored your health, even if you're very low. Some of the changes listed previously have affected this, but I've decided that I want to move away from 3.0's burst damage/healing style as much as possible, so there will be further changes to account of this.

Ideally, taking damage should be a much lower pace. But healing should also be scaled down. Currently, healing values are a bit over-tuned -- so reducing those across the board (in addition to enemy damage) is something I am currently in the process of doing. -HP level is also something that enemies, particularly bosses will inflict a lot too. You can see that with the Serpent boss fight. Increasing the MAX HP of all party members is also something I've done to accommodate this. 

What does this mean?

ReDux should be about fairness, balance and overall providing more enjoyment to the combat, while still being much more difficult. In past iterations, you'd often feel 'on edge' in most battles. There was always a threat of being quickly bursted down, and if you didn't act upon it immediately, you could be in for some serious trouble. For that reason, you absolutely had to dedicate to healing/recovery before anything else in those situations. That said, healing was/is very easy -- you could just throw out a heal or two and be on top form again. Therefore, the pattern of which you heal (or don't heal) is rather predictable. And if the enemy chain attacks you before you have the chance to  heal, you could easily die.

These changes hope to balance this much better. If you take a round of damage from the enemy, you should no longer be forced to heal, and can instead set up attacks, or debuff, defend etc... There's no immediate pressure to patch yourself up. But if you wait too long, you could still be in trouble, because healing itself is much weaker. Relying on stronger healing spells could result in running out of mana fast. Therefore, even though there's no immediate threat if your health levels are currently good, you need to balance out using higher efficiency healing over time or stronger healing to leave more room for other actions. This ultimately gives you a greater scope of control.

Healing Paradigms

In the previous post, I listed how each of the basic healing spells would scale. They followed a similar scaling/idea as past versions, just to give you an idea on how the scaling system worked. In reality, while the general usage of those spells are the same, the values and purpose of each of them has changed a bit. The premise of them is still 'higher cost = bigger heal' but the idea around that is more heavily varied. Heal/Alheal are still quite cheap -- in terms of efficiency/speed they outclass the other spells and are therefore safe options to cast at all times. You can throw one of them out sparingly without too much threat to your mana pool, but if your health is low, they're not going to secure your safety immediately, although the total HPS over time is quite good. 

Healer and Alhealer aren't too expensive either, and heal for much, much more. In terms of healing per mana cost they are by far the best healing spells. However, they have a fixed cast time that is rather long to execute (Think Invoke). They are very efficient cost wise, but are unreliable to say the least -- you may get cancelled due to them being quite slow. And overall, while the immediate healing is rather good, the total HPS over multiple turns is not the best. These spells are good if you have the time to use them, and can save you from immediate danger, but don't rely on them too much. Getting cancelled can result terribly.

Healer+ and Alhealer+ are the go-to panic spells. They are huge in cost, are relatively fast to cast, and heal for a lot. They don't heal that much more than Healer/Alhealer, but the fact they cast almost immediately makes them excellent in certain situations. 

In regards to lategame values, here are all the healing spells. Listed is the maximum healing value.

POWER: 120
MANA: 12
CAST TIME: 0.5 second
Sue, Feena, Liete

MANA: 15
CAST TIME: 1 seconds
Justin, Liete


POWER: 220
MANA: 14
CAST TIME: 7 seconds
Sue, Feena, Liete

POWER: 130
MANA: 18
CAST TIME: 8 seconds
Justin, Liete


POWER: 230
MANA: 26
CAST TIME: 1.5 seconds
Sue, Feena, Liete

POWER: 140
MANA: 36
CAST TIME: 2 seconds
Justin, Liete


POWER: ---
MANA: 10
CAST TIME: 10 seconds
Justin, Sue, Feena, Rapp, Liete

POWER: 999
MANA: 34
CAST TIME: 2 seconds
Self cast only
Removes all negative status effects and debuffs

Resurrect is very cheap, but the cast time is extremely high. Do take in account that pretty much all enemy abilities cancel later on. And on expert mode, you'll have a hard time cancelling them before they do so to you. Remember though that spell haste on equipment do make a huge difference to Healer/Alhealer/Resurrect. If you want someone to specialize in healing, that statistic is the way to go. Not going for spell haste will likely make Heal/Alheal the spells of choice most of the time (As a side note, only Justin has access to the best spell haste equip in the game, potentially making him the best AoE healer / reviver if you want to build him that way!).

Yes, Rapp still has no targetable healing spells. But he does have resurrect now, and a self heal that restores him fully. His super large HP pool couple with his low defense and resistances, make him far more inefficient to heal than other members of the team. So he can help that cause, so to speak.

Healing items are toned down quite a bit, and healing spells out of combat are disabled aside from Heal, Alheal and Resurrect which have a fixed power / MP cost. This is just to streamline things and make it so items out of combat are still useful. In combat, healing items are still great for conserving mana in longer fights. Barring in mind all this, healing spells share mana pools with status removal and buffs. Dying is a much bigger deal in ReDux complete (due to the huge cast time on Resurrect) so waiting to revive in order to cure status is no longer very optimal. And since Vanish is gone, you'll want to save your mana pool for buffs too, especially to counteract debuffs (or using refresh).

What about Invoke?

After a lot of thought, I've decided to remove it. The patterns in which it was used wasn't too good for the flow of the game, in both normal fights and bosses -- and the lack of inventory space does mean that MP restoring items can definitely be a balanced way to manage mana in longer dungeons. For boss fights, the existence of invoke meant I either had to make it too hard to use, or balance fights around it. It also meant that the player is inclined to use all their SP for it and seldom use weapon skills (especially for Feena/Liete). That said, Liete does still have a unique means of gaining mana, albeit slightly differently. You'll see.

Blue Medicine will be dropped often at all stages of the game. It's quite a bit weaker than in previous versions (same amount of MP restored, but spells cost way more), but it's cheap and accessible and you can use it in combat. Yellow Medicine is also cheap and accessible, but cannot be used in combat. SP restoration are what basic attacks are for. 

Deep Blue Potion cannot be bought and Magic Lamp no longer exists. Mana management will be a lot more difficult than in previous versions. For the most part, inventory space will be a limiting factor as opposed to say, gold. And while using a Blue Medicine in combat is way faster than Invoke, the amount of MP restored is much lower.

Through testing, Invoke just didn't seem to work as well as I thought it would in practice. It solved some problems but created others. The newer system seems to work much better. Truth be told, the limited inventory in Grandia is a blessing rather than a curse, since resource management becomes far more balanceable as a result. So compared to previous versions, I have decided to take advantage of this aspect even further -- turns out it is a stronger solution.

As for a release? Well, I can confirm that finishing this is currently an absolute priority. It will be done when it's done.