One thing I absolutely wanted to have in Battlefield of Love is the sheer depth you find with the items in Atelier games. That series has a large variety of items with a large variety of special added effects. But it’s important to remember standard player habits. The more of something you have, the less of it players are likely to actually use. Besides, the Atelier series places a lot of focus on these, and make up more of its playtime than the combat system itself. It would be a fool’s errand to actually expect to harness the full extent of that as a solo programmer.
What I’m getting at is that most items in RPGs are pointless and have boring effects, simply using images and names to differentiate between very similar items. I didn’t want to do that. I decided to take direct inspiration from Atelier to provide variety without padding the item list. This also helped with two other things: I wanted every item to be useful for the entire game, and I wanted the player to have some degree of customization.
This is why, if you’ve noticed my update to this blog’s dedicated page for the game, you’d know that I opted to make 113 items for the entire game, with 43 customizable traits. 113 sounds like a large number until you realize that this is actually on the lower end, and it becomes even worse when you realise that, out of those, there are 4 weapons for each of the 16 characters, plus 12 different choices for armor and 19 slots for miscellaneous equips. That leaves 15 usable items in battle, one of which is only usable by one character as a cost for their skills, so make that 14. That number’s looking really tiny now, right?
Well, not necessarily. Remember the 43 traits. What I did here was that I made all of these items mere shells with basic effects that are altered and added upon by using these traits. And 43 is a pretty misleading number, since all but a few of these have large amounts of potential numerical variations related to severity and/or activation rate. For example, making an item inflict Stage 5 Poison 10% of the time and Stage 2 Poison 50% of the time are counted as the same by that count of 43 under “Poison # ###%”, where the former example would be noted as “Poison 5 10%”.
All of the base effects work in percentages or other sorts of calculations to make the items useful regardless of how far one is in the game, too. For example, the offensive items have a base damage value related to the user’s level. For example, the single-target bomb deals 33 damage times the user’s level. This means it deals a full 3267 by default at level 99, meaning it would kill in 4 hits at most given the cap of 9999 HP on most characters.
Up to ten traits can be put on each item, with customizable item names, and, if possible, I want to allow the player to use custom images to represent these items to differentiate each instance of them.
But that’s not the only customization I’m putting in the game. I’m also making the stat growths for all player characters dynamic. While every character has set growths (set as a percentage of the same amount of stat points per level), these actually just make half of the stats gained for the level. The other half is automatically set by the last 100 actions performed by the individual characters. By which I mean being hit by a physical attack will add Defense to the end of the list and bump off whatever’s at the start of it. Then, upon gaining a level, this is tallied and put together with the default growths to determine the stats for the level and the list is reset.
This ensures that the characters’ stats are what the player needs them to be, not what some designer thought up. Additionally, like the usable items, the equipment is based on percentages, which means that the equipment you get at the start of the game and the end of the game may only have traits for differences – though that can be a huge deal.
What’s worth noting about the equipment is that if the aforementioned example trait Poison 5 10% was added to a weapon, that only affects the basic attack by the character, while putting it on armor would ignore the first number and simply lower the wearer’s Poison resistance by 10%. …Yes, traits can be positive or negative depending on what it’s on. If you want to raise Poison resistance on armor, the trait you want is “Anti-Poison ###%”. If you put that on a weapon, though, your basic attacks have a chance of healing Poison from the enemy when you hit them, instead, which is amusing and something you don’t want to do for obvious reasons.
Hopefully the addition of this is seen as adding significant depth to the gameplay.
Random trivia time. When thinking of the default character growths, I thought of their roles in the game and their respective parties. Out of pure coincidence, this resulted in the characters’ stat growths completely disregarding common convention (especially with the combat system allowing for some wacky stuff) and gender roles.
No, the girls aren’t all magic or healing – most of the physically-strongest characters are female, and there’s one healer per gender. In fact, it’s the men who hold the majority for the magical end of things, but most of the men are, in fact, non-offensive characters. By “most”, I don’t mean it ended up that way because there happened to be more men – there are eight of each gender. Also, the male lead carries almost no offensive moves whatsoever. Remember, very little of this was intentional.