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 Post subject: Your thoughts on an RPG mechanic: Tension/PressurePosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:39 pm
 Harmlessness does no harm

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:37 pm
Posts: 3913
Location: Ferriday, LA, US
Howdy folks,

I'm working on a game (with RPG mechanics based loosely upon the d20 SRD, version 3.5, the system used by Dungeons & Dragons 3.5E), and I wanted to get some takes on a certain mechanic.

What I plan is to have something akin to a "vitality" or "endurance" score, handled in a way similar to HP (in other words, a literal value that can often go up and down). This score (which I am thinking about calling "tension") basically acts as "fuel" for certain actions (empowered physical attacks and spell effects, and faster reaction times, primarily). The idea is that under certain circumstances -- such as in a moment of desperation, for example -- one can call upon this "tension" to perform an extraordinary feat.

Of course, the question is, how should I go about handling such a mechanic.

My ideas involve a "pressure gauge" of sorts that changes based on a character's situation. Depending on how this gauge is set determines how much a character's tension builds. For example, if the character is in a situation where the odds are stacked against him, the "pressure gauge" would be higher -- and as a result, his tension score would increase faster than it would if, say, he were relaxing at a pub (in which case, the "pressure gauge" would be lower than normal).

With this in mind, I figure I could make the "pressure gauge" serve as a modifier to a character's rate of building tension. Maybe if the pressure is "normal", it could be a simple 2d6 roll; with "relaxing" adding a -5 penalty to the result; and a +5 bonus for "intense" situations. In any case, this roll would be factored into a character's tension score at a set interval (perhaps in order of turn initiative, or maybe over the course of "world time").

There are also ideas for allowing direct manipulation of tension. For example, an "Adrenaline Rush" technique that allows a character to rapidly accumulate tension score; or maybe a feat called "Hot-Headed" that augments the modifier applied to all "pressure" rolls. On the obverse, one could have abilities to diminish the tension of other characters (like "Soothe," which could lower a character's pressure gauge; or "Feign Advantage," which would be somewhat the reverse of "Intimidate" -- in other words, trying to bluff your way into fooling the enemy into thinking you have some significant advantage over him).

Any input is appreciated.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:47 pm
It sounds like your "Tension" modifier is essentially an adrenaline gauge. That's a pretty cool mechanic. What if it was a multiplier? Normal situation's it'd be at 1.. so (Damage x Adrenaline) = FinalDamage or something.. when his heart is pumping, he can hit harder.. move faster... or when he's soothed, or relaxed, he'd have less adrenaline.. 0.7 or something and therefore move slower and hit less hard. Could have situational or magical buffs to adrenaline, or if your RPG is futuristic, could achieve it through drugs

-Meneliki

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:24 pm
 Harmlessness does no harm

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:37 pm
Posts: 3913
Location: Ferriday, LA, US
Meneliki wrote:
It sounds like your "Tension" modifier is essentially an adrenaline gauge. That's a pretty cool mechanic. What if it was a multiplier? Normal situation's it'd be at 1.. so (Damage x Adrenaline) = FinalDamage or something.. when his heart is pumping, he can hit harder.. move faster... or when he's soothed, or relaxed, he'd have less adrenaline.. 0.7 or something and therefore move slower and hit less hard.

That's sort of how I plan to handle the tension score, at least to some degree. With a character that has a certain amount of tension built up, it can make his attacks hit harder, and improve his reaction time. I'm not sure I'd use it as a straight multiplier -- I'd rather stick to something more traditional (i.e. a bonus/penalty modifier).

I suppose "standard" modifiers (i.e. "normal" activities that do not call directly upon a character's tension store) could be determined by the "pressure" gauge (the way that tension-accumulation is), rather than tension score. Tension score could then be strictly "expended" when performing one of those special, extraordinary actions.

Meneliki wrote:
Could have situational or magical buffs to adrenaline, or if your RPG is futuristic, could achieve it through drugs

Right -- that is along the lines of the stuff I mentioned regarding direct manipulation of a character's tension ("Adrenaline Rush," "Soothe," etc.). Also, the main purpose of the "Pressure gauge" is to adjust a character's rate of tension-accumulation -- in a pitched battle, the gauge would be set high (which would allow the character to store tension more rapidly); if a character is drowsy, the gauge would be lower. (I've also considered character feats, such as "Hot-Headed", which makes the character more "naturally" predisposed to build tension rapidly; and perhaps a "Sharp Mind" feat that could reduce any negative effects from pressure-gauge manipulations from other characters.)

Anything can (potentially) manipulate the pressure gauge. There could be conversational "events" where an NPC might say something to your character that sets him off -- raising the pressure gauge.

Of course, that's kind of moving the cart along too quickly. Need to get the basic procedure ironed out before going overboard figuring out how to abuse it.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:56 pm
 Funky Monkey

Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:17 pm
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Location: burrowed
Thats a mechanic that could influence the game in a lot of ways.
Like a lot of tension could restrict your dialog options to more agressive or offensive (depending on a willpower attribute). High tension could also decrease the chance of success for dexterous tasks like lockpicking.

Currently it sounds like Tension has only possitive effects, so people could work out a way to have the tension as high as possible all the time for best performance. I'd add a mechanic that while it makes you faster and stronger it also makes you sloppy and decreases your total stamina, or increasing hunger or an exhaustion attribute so you need to rest more often, are less likely to success in sneaking because you breath heavily or your steps are carelessly loud, so you don't want to be under high Tension all the time.

Sneaking itself could also slowly increase the tension so you cannot be all sneaky all the time (worst offender is imo DeusEx2. A game i played through in crouch mode basically).

Higher Tension could increase your heartbeat rate, and if it's just an audible cue to let the player know that your character is under stress.

Lower Health could increase Tension aswell as fighting (or doing physical and mental tasks) continuously.

You could have triggered events in your dungeons, like pressure plates for traps and general floor tiles that click or grumble when walking over them. It could spike the Tension meter if it's in an unknown location or an unknown tile you stepped on. Or footsteps by other entities near you that you cannot see yet.

Drugs or supplements can influence your Tension too, like drinking alcohol makes you resistant against Tension.

That's what i can come up with from the top of my head

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:45 pm
 Harmlessness does no harm

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:37 pm
Posts: 3913
Location: Ferriday, LA, US
weezl wrote:
Thats a mechanic that could influence the game in a lot of ways.
Like a lot of tension could restrict your dialog options to more agressive or offensive (depending on a willpower attribute). High tension could also decrease the chance of success for dexterous tasks like lockpicking.

Currently it sounds like Tension has only possitive effects, so people could work out a way to have the tension as high as possible all the time for best performance. I'd add a mechanic that while it makes you faster and stronger it also makes you sloppy and decreases your total stamina, or increasing hunger or an exhaustion attribute so you need to rest more often, are less likely to success in sneaking because you breath heavily or your steps are carelessly loud, so you don't want to be under high Tension all the time.

Yeah, I was thinking on this earlier today. There would certainly be a limit (just like HP) to any character's tension score. Of course, later on, I started thinking about handling in ways similar to what you've described (adding a penalty to actions that require "fine" movements and the like -- as well as other negative effects, such as inflicting "panic" on a character with high tension... but only for extreme cases, such as having high tension for a certain length of time, with the likelihood increasing based on time).

I didn't mean to imply tension was invariably a "good thing," but I did tend to focus mostly on the benefits.

weezl wrote:
Sneaking itself could also slowly increase the tension so you cannot be all sneaky all the time (worst offender is imo DeusEx2. A game i played through in crouch mode basically).

Higher Tension could increase your heartbeat rate, and if it's just an audible cue to let the player know that your character is under stress.

Lower Health could increase Tension aswell as fighting (or doing physical and mental tasks) continuously.

You could have triggered events in your dungeons, like pressure plates for traps and general floor tiles that click or grumble when walking over them. It could spike the Tension meter if it's in an unknown location or an unknown tile you stepped on. Or footsteps by other entities near you that you cannot see yet.

Drugs or supplements can influence your Tension too, like drinking alcohol makes you resistant against Tension.

That's what i can come up with from the top of my head

Very good stuff, weezl -- thanks!

I really like the way you suggest applying it to stealth... that could lead to some very interesting situations!

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:56 pm
 Source Code Swashbuckler

Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:58 am
Posts: 199
Location: Brazil
Is this RPG WulaBugr?

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:07 pm
 Harmlessness does no harm

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:37 pm
Posts: 3913
Location: Ferriday, LA, US
FelipeFS wrote:
Is this RPG WulaBugr?

No, this is for a project that I'll start on after WulaBugr. ("This" RPG will be more of a "modern" style -- as opposed to WulaBugr, which is really just a Roguelike with absurdly souped-up graphics.)

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:21 pm
 Funky Monkey

Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:17 pm
Posts: 1647
Location: burrowed
rotInMilc wrote:
FelipeFS wrote:
Is this RPG WulaBugr?

No, this is for a project that I'll start on after WulaBugr. ("This" RPG will be more of a "modern" style -- as opposed to WulaBugr, which is really just a Roguelike with absurdly souped-up graphics.)

Too bad, i'd liked to see this kind of stuff in your roguelike

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:32 pm
 Harmlessness does no harm

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:37 pm
Posts: 3913
Location: Ferriday, LA, US
weezl wrote:
rotInMilc wrote:
FelipeFS wrote:
Is this RPG WulaBugr?

No, this is for a project that I'll start on after WulaBugr. ("This" RPG will be more of a "modern" style -- as opposed to WulaBugr, which is really just a Roguelike with absurdly souped-up graphics.)

Too bad, i'd liked to see this kind of stuff in your roguelike

Yeah, the idea is pretty intriguing.

The thing with WulaBugr is that, as far as characters go, the presentation is a bit "impersonal." The viewpoint is a rather strict top-down view (and by strict, I mean that you literally see everything from directly above -- i.e. for a human, all you get to see is the top of his head, his arms/shoulder, and whatever else is not directly under those parts of his body). I kind of feel that the "visceral" aspect of the tension mechanic would, to a great extent, lose its effect.

What are your thoughts on this?

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:36 pm
 Funky Monkey

Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:17 pm
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Location: burrowed
thats mostly true, a shifted perspective could benefit you though. think zelda. or powdergame where the gameworld is flat top down and the character are sideways. not the best way to go, but it's a valid solution and works well enough for roguelikes of low graphical fidelity

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:39 pm
 Source Code Swashbuckler

Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:58 am
Posts: 199
Location: Brazil
Do some thing like that:

But, if you will use the solution I presented you in the "shadow view topic", don't update the shadows every time, update after some seconds, or milliseconds. I think that if you update it in the main loop, every time, the game will be slow.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:45 pm
 Funky Monkey

Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:17 pm
Posts: 1647
Location: burrowed
FelipeFS wrote:
Do some thing like that:

But, if you will use the solution I presented you in the "shadow view topic", don't update the shadows every time, update after some seconds, or milliseconds. I think that if you update it in the main loop, every time, the game will be slow.

I actually linked the tutorial by that creator in the wulabugr thread

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 Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:01 pm
 Harmlessness does no harm

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:37 pm
Posts: 3913
Location: Ferriday, LA, US
FelipeFS wrote:
But, if you will use the solution I presented you in the "shadow view topic", don't update the shadows every time, update after some seconds, or milliseconds. I think that if you update it in the main loop, every time, the game will be slow.

Right -- I started off by ensuring that the FOV (i.e. shadows) only updates when necessary (i.e. the player moves to another tile).

Of course, the "tension" RPG would involve a completely different perspective (isometric). It wouldn't be difficult at all to render WulaBugr in that perspective (my tile engine can render a tile map in standard top-down view, but it can also render an isometric tile map, if you set one of the arguments passed to the render function) -- the only issue would be redoing some of the graphics.

That said, even redoing the graphics would be no major issue, being that WulaBugr itself depends on very little as far as graphical assets.

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What most people don't understand about "enlightenment" is that it is not an end-goal; but where you find yourself just before taking a new "first step."

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 Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:46 pm
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:41 pm
Posts: 3
Perhaps you shouldn't call it "Tension". Dragon Quest has a similarly named mechanic.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:42 pm
 Funky Monkey

Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:17 pm
Posts: 1647
Location: burrowed
Not that it matters though. At some point we're bound to run out of words for a given mechanic

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