FFXIV:ARR - Battle and Class Systems

Last Edited August 19th 2013 (clarification)

If I take the time to write this, it’s not because I think everything about the game is wrong.

It’s because I see alot of potential, care about its future, and worry about potentially wrong design directions.

Disclaimer

Everything in this document is my opinion, and as such, is subjective - I am not trying to pass it down as absolute truth.

However, please try not to superimpose your biases over my reasoning.

I will try to keep updating the document.

/Disclaimer

  1. FFXIV can learn alot from all FF games - not just FFXI - but it can also learn from other games out there.

At the end of the day, however, it still needs to feel unique - not a clone or remake of your favorite game.

  1. Statistics are highly deceptive, and it’s very risky for a developer to try and use them to help develop a game’s features.

It will inevitably lead you to wrong or at least incomplete conclusions, and thus, bad decisions.

  1. Features in MMOs are rarely independent, and are highly vulnerable to the nuances of their implementation.

A lot of good features in MMORPGs fail because of poor implementation.

Poor implementation can refer to the design itself, but often it refers to incompatibility between features.

Two features may individually be perfect, and yet incompatible.

So you must see the big picture when designing a game.

Index

1 - Battle System

                1.0.1 - Complexity vs Depth

                1.0.2 - Technology

                1.0.3 - Focus on End Game

1.1 - Skill Cap & Merit

1.1.1 - Combat Opportunities

1.1.2 - Multi-Function Skills

1.2 - Eye Candy

1.3 - Attack and Movement

        1.4 - Resources

        1.5 - Cooldowns

        1.6 - Cooldown Subsystems

        1.7 - Global Cooldown

        1.8 - Auto-Attack

        1.9 - Skill Variety

        1.10 - Input Variety

        1.11 - Combos

        1.12 - Limit Breaks

                1.12.1 - Teamwork versus Individualism

                1.12.2 - Individual Limit Gauge

                1.12.3 - Limit Break Modes

                1.12.4 - Limit Break Concept

1.13 - Team Combos

        1.13.1 - Burst

1.14 - Accuracy & Critical Hit

1.15 - Friendly Fire

2 - Class/Job System

        2.1 - Weapon Archetypes

        2.2 - Defining Class/Job

        2.3 - Leveling Additional Classes/Jobs

3 - Traits and Skills

        3.1 - Trait System

3.2 - Cross Class Traits

3.3 - Independent Traits

3.4 - Skill & Trait Capacity

4 - Battle System vs Battle Content

        4.1 - PvE versus PvP

                4.1.1 - Aggro/Threat/Enmity for both NPCs and Players

1 - Battle System

Combat in FFXIV looks beautiful and has a good responsiveness.

However, it feels overly simplistic and repetitive.

It is imperative that players are given options - real options.

If you can ignore a certain skill, it’s not an option.

However, if you always use a certain skill, it’s still not an option.

You have real options, when you are provided multiple tools to deal with the same problem - none of which is obviously the best.

1.0.1 - Complexity vs Depth (Back to Index)

Complexity is not something you should seek when designing Combat.

What you really want in a Battle System is Depth.

Complexity is merely an acceptable possible consequence of mechanics that seek to add Depth to a Battle System.

Most newer MMOs seem to be focusing on “Easy to Learn” - which is good - but then sugar coat it with complexity - in the absence of Depth - and call it “Hard to Master”.

I wonder if it’s the investors, the community, the lack of developer vision or a combination of the three that are causing this.

1.0.2 - Technology (Back to Index)

This is not something you want to bet everything on - it will sign your game’s demise.

Technology is evolving fast - by the time your game is near release, one or more newer, more technologically advanced game(s) will already have been announced as under development.

World of Warcraft has kept alot of players despite multiple visually amazing, so-called WoW-killer MMORPGs were released with clear technological superiority.

The reality is that as long as the technological aspects of the game are reasonable, it is what matters the least about the game’s qualities.

1.0.3 - Focus on End Game (Back to Index)

MMORPGs keep advertising End Game as the end-all-be-all of fun.

In truth, End Game isn’t getting any better in newer games. It’s actually getting worse.

It’s getting more beautiful, but less challenging or engaging.

It’s getting more time consuming, but less entertaining.

For most MMORPGs, this focus on End Game often comes with a mediocre gameplay in the rest of the game.

Players are essentially being “told” to overlook the shortcomings of the game while leveling, because when they get to maximum level, they’re in for the ride of their lives - they even tell each other that all over the forums.

It’s gotten into the core of most communities.

Players are growing more consumist towards fun - even though I don’t even understand how that is possible.

They rush to maximum level, and “consume” Content faster than it is released.

Together with the fact that each game area is usually designed for a specific range of levels, and the existence of instanced content you can remotely access through features like Duty/Dungeon Finder, you see dead Open Worlds, since a couple weeks into launch 9 out of 10 players are either in an instance or in an end game area for the majority of their play time.

MMORPGs in general are starting to feel more like Single Player games with Chat, where even other players are often treated like you would a henchman NPC.

1.1 - Skill Cap & Merit (Back to Index)

Arguably the most important aspect of MMO combat, it is what determines the longevity of an MMO for players that value combat above other aspects - and this kind of players is very common.

Skill Cap defines how much a player can influence his own performance by utilizing available mechanics to their fullest.

A higher Skill Cap means a bigger difference between being Good and being the Best.

Skill Cap is deeply connected to Merit.

Players need to feel like they are the main culprit for their results - success or defeat.

If what you do is of little consequence, the game becomes boring, and you lose interest.

I love roleplay, exploration and lore, but if I feel that the only thing distinguishing me from a fellow player of the same Class is my gear and looks, it will greatly detract from my enjoyment and likely reduce my interest in the game.

.

How to improve Skillcap and the feeling of Merit? Continue reading.

1.1.1 - Combat Opportunities (Back to Index)

Something that every MMO should have in some shape or form.

I call Combat Opportunities every class mechanic that changes up your rotation, providing you with an opportunity - and options - to produce better results than usual.

This is usually handled with procs, stacks or both.

Example #1:

Currently, Lancer is arguably encouraged to open with Impulse Drive -> Disembowel -> Chaos Thrust (30 second DoT)

> You want to use Heavy Thrust every 10 seconds for its buff, and if someone else draws aggro first, or if you have a Stun available, this should be used before Impulse Drive as an opener.

>> While you have Chaos Thrust and Heavy Thrust active, you repeat True Thrust -> Vorpal Thrust -> Full Thrust.

This is complexity - not depth. This is all predictable and rotational. It’s all things you decide outside combat.

Now let’s assume two traits:

The first gives TT and VT a chance to make your next Impulse Drive automatically crit, making it appealing to initiate that combo more often than once every 30 seconds for the CT DoT.

The second trait causes Vorpal Thrust and Disembowel hits, as well as Impulse Drive crits to give a stack of “Shiny”.

You consume 5 stacks of “Shiny” to either make your next Heavy Thrust 3x stronger (not the buff), ignore the cooldown on your Stun, or make your Feint an AoE and 2x stronger.

Suddenly you have real decisions to make in the heat of battle.

Example #2:

Everytime you use Fire I, II or III (THM), there’s a stacking 10% chance your next Blizzard I, II or III (THM) will restore Mana equal to X% of damage dealt, ignore Astral Fire, but will neither remove Astral Fire nor trigger Umbral Ice; or your next Thunder I, II or III (THM) will benefit from Astral Fire and deal all its damage instantly to target and enemies near it.

This chance is reset once the effects occurs.

First cast has 10% chance, but if it doesn’t trigger, next cast has 20% chance, and so on, until it triggers and resets.

This means you don’t have a predictable rotation. You can get the proc at the 1st cast, but you will surely get it by the 10th.

Example #3:

Every critical True Strike (PGL) has a 25% stacking chance to enable 1 use of Haymaker (PGL) without Evading or cause the next Touch of Death to apply its DoT in AoE.

This chance is reset once it occurs.

First cast has 25% chance, but if it doesn’t trigger, next cast has 50% chance, and so on, until it triggers and resets.

This means you don’t have a predictable rotation. You can get the proc at the 1st try, but you will surely get it by the 4th.

All of the above depicts multiple choices, creating an “unstable” rotation, but the ideal is going further and making multiple mechanics interact with each other - this is essential to a game’s lasting success.

I daresay it’s one of the true reasons WoW is so popular. Almost no other games have this - apart from a few so-called WoW-clones.

Games like SWTOR and Rift have some of it, but in a much blander fashion.

No wonder so many players flock back to WoW after a couple months of trying the newest game in the market, despite WoW being inferior in nearly everything else.

With all the amazing combat animations, newer games fail to deliver an engaging combat system.

1.1.2 - Multi-Function Skills (Back to Index)

This is another example of how to add meaningful decisions to the game that help distinguish the great player from the average.

I am talking about Skills that have more than one effect.

Example #1:

An instant dispel that can remove beneficial effects from enemies or detrimental effects from allies, and either has a cooldown or uses a high amount of resource.

For a higher skill-cap, add some positional effect: dispels all beneficial effects from 1 enemy, and 1 detrimental effect from each ally near it; or all detrimental effects from 1 ally, and 1 beneficial effect from each enemy near it.

        Alternatively, have it remove one/all beneficial effects from all enemies and detrimental effects from all allies within a small area.

It would become important to decide between using it on important targets vs using it on highest amount of targets.

Example #2:

An instant healing spell that also provides X% movement speed, and either has a cooldown or uses a high amount of resource.

Do you use it on someone who needs the speed - to get out of damage area or quickly reach important enemy?

Or do you use it on someone who needs the heal?

Or can you find someone who needs both?

Example #3:

A mix of #1 and #2 - two skills with shared cooldowns, each with multiple functions each.

Do you use the dispel?

        If so, do you use it on friend or foe?

Or do you use the heal?

        If so, is it for the heal or the movement boost?

Unlike some tend to exaggerate, neither the Combat Opportunity nor the Multi-function Skill examples require a bunch of Gauges and/or Icons to manage.

It can be done properly with decent visual cues - SE just needs to avoid cluttering combat with exaggerated visual effects on simple skills, which leads me to the next topic.

1.2 - Eye Candy (Back to Index)

It’s a great thing if the game looks awesome.

The problem, in FFXIV ARR, is that even the simplest Skills are flashy.

While this may not be annoying when soloing, it makes group content a huge cluster of sparkly lights.

        From a gameplay perspective, it makes it harder to properly identify what is happening in combat.

        From an immersion perspective, if everything looks “special”, in the end, nothing truly feels special.

Normal attacks need to feel normal so that the special attacks feel special.

Something you constantly use will never feel special, regardless of visual effects.

If you try too hard to make the simplest actions special, you’ll only succeed in making the game feel less believable.

1.3 - Attack & Movement (Back to Index)

Attacking & Moving simultaneously is rather convenient.

But like most convenient features in MMOs, it comes with dire consequences - Duty Finder comes to mind, but for now let’s discuss combat.

  1. It’s not very easy to make all attack animations compatible with movement, making the character look stiff or glitched.
  2. Allowing you to attack while moving, promotes Kiting tactics.
  1. Kiting is very dangerous, because it easily falls out of balance and ultimately trumps most strategies, trivializing challenge and ruining fun.
  1. I have nothing against Kiting - it’s a legitimate tactic - but it needs downsides.

So, despite Movement while attacking being a good thing, it needs limitations and/or specific rules:

My first thought is that we need to have some sort of penalty for attacking while moving.

Something like slower movement speed while attacking and/or slower attack speed while moving.

Looking at existing games, I must say Aion has some interesting concepts in this regard.

There, each type of movement gives specific bonuses and penalties.

Even though I don’t agree with the exact numbers they used, nor with all bonuses, it’s a very good basic concept.

From a realism point of view, it makes sense that you’re harder to hit while moving sideways, and you should never move sideways as fast as you run forward.

From a balance point of view, it’s important that you can’t run circles around someone while attacking them at full force.

This leads me to my suggestion.

Combat Step

While fighting, you should need some stability to perform your attacks at full power.

Furthermore, you should never be able to move at full speed while performing tasks.

So I think Moving & Attacking should have a few unique interactions.

Mode A - Pressing a movement key during the animation of an attack skill:

Instead of running at full speed with a broken animation, you lunge in the desired direction, but in function of the target’s position.

Pressing once Strafe Right or Left would make your character perform a quick side-step around the target.

Pressing forward would make your character lunge towards the target.

Pressing backward would make your character hop backwards.

Since you only need to press the direction once - rather than holding it - this actually frees your hand for other tasks.

Notice that movement would only behave this way if you initiate movement while already performing an attack skill.

Once the skill is finished, movement controls return to normal.

This is not a dodge - it just removes the need to keep the directional buttons pressed all the time.

        Mode B - Auto-attacking & Moving:

                Movement should be slightly slower while auto-attack is turned on - at least while you are facing the target.

Auto-attack timer should slow down while you are moving, so moving 0.5s with a 20% auto-attack penalty results in a 0.1s delay.

        Mode C - Initiating an attack skill while already moving:

Character stops to perform the skill, and you enter Mode A.

        Mode A actually makes it easier to manage skills from classes that require positioning, like LNC and PGL.

        Mode B and C help prevent Kiting from becoming overwhelmingly useful.

Ideally, I would tie movement and attacking to a shared Resource, such as TP, but I don’t believe that is worth discussing here, as it requires a major change in game mechanics and combat dynamic.

1.4 - Resources (Back to Index)

Resources don’t really feel like resources at the moment.

The few exceptions can easily be boiled down to simple rotations, which defeats the purpose of management.

They mostly feel like a finite pool - essentially a timer.

How to improve this?

Resource Regeneration Threshold(s)

Make Resource Thresholds, below which they regenerate slower.

Example: Hypotetically, you could have a 60% and 40% Threshold on both TP and MP

Below the 60% Threshold, the resource regenerates at 75% of the normal rate.

Below the 40% Threshold, the resource regenerates at 50% of the normal rate.

What this does, is promote strategic use of the Resources, rather than spamming.

You usually want to keep it above the highest Threshold (60%), to maintain a 100% regeneration rate.

However, in certain ocasions, you may decide you need short term efficiency, and are willing to sacrifice long term efficiency to obtain it - example: bursting down an important target.

Good use of such mechanic helps distinguish exceptional players.

Variety in Resource Management

Having plenty of ways to manage your resources, can greatly add to the above.

Examples:

  1. Uses 60 TP - Physical
  2. Uses 30 MP - Magic
  3. Uses 60 TP and 30 MP - Hybrid
  4. Requries 100 TP but uses nothing - Physical Conservation
  5. Requires 100 TP and 60 MP but uses nothing - Hybrid Conservation
  6. Requires 100 TP but only uses 60 TP - Physical Efficiency
  7. Uses nothing - Filler
  8. Uses nothing and grants 50 MP - Builder
  9. Requires 100 TP but uses 30 MP - Physical Conservation Magic
  10. Requires 100 TP but uses 60 TP and 30 MP - Physical Efficiency Magic
  11. Requires 100 TP and grants 50 MP - Physical Conservation Magic Builder
  12. Requires 100 TP and 50 MP but doesn’t use anything - Hybrid Conservation
  13. Uses 60 TP and grants 30 MP - Direct Exchange
  14. Uses 50 MP and grants increased TP regeneration for X seconds - Gradual Exchange

With a reasonable amount of the above, skills don’t even need cooldowns.

1.5 - Cooldowns (Back to Index)

Artificial

I consider “artificial” Cooldowns in general a bandaid solution to Resources:

Exceptions to this are longer Cooldowns that change gameplay - like the Pugilist’s Perfect Balance - but even those can be handled without a Cooldown.

For example, with the above Resource suggestions, you could make Perfect Balance’s require a high amount of TP and/or MP (without consuming), increase your Skill costs for the duration, and end the effect when you go below a certain amount of TP and/or MP.

This means you would want to fill up your MP and TP before activating it, and if properly tuned, this wouldn’t be a frequent occurrence, resulting in a “natural” cooldown.

Excessively High Cooldowns

There is an excessive use of high cooldowns in this game, such that it doesn’t feel like you are managing something.

60s is reasonable and 90s is acceptable, but once you get to 120s and above, it’s just too high.

To make it worse, we have 420s (7m) cooldowns in this game.

It’s just not fun.

Having powerful abilities be ruled merely on a cooldown doesn’t add much fun to the game.

Having those same abilities alongside requirements that must be met to use them, is alot better.

Example: Limit Breaks, Infuriated (Warrior).

Most cooldowns should be below 30 seconds.

Highest cooldowns should be 90 seconds.

Anything too powerful to have a mere 90 seconds cooldown should also be handled with Resources and Class mechanics, rather than a mere increase to the Cooldown.

1.6 - Cooldown Sub-Systems (Back to Index)

The popular Cooldown model is very crude.

It can be handled in more sophisticated ways, that make gameplay less frustrating.

As we all know, every second a Skill with a Cooldown stays unused is a second it’s being wasted.

Alot of the strategic value of several skills is lost because of this, as they often end up being used on cooldown, rather than saved for the right time.

This almost only matters for damage dealing.

Before we go on, I know certain encounters may include burn phases that make it worth holding onto DPS cooldowns, or specific creatures that must die quickly, but that’s not what this is about, and doesn’t excuse an overall unrewarding gameplay.

It’s worth noting that a class that has a bigger dependancy on DPS cooldowns has a clear disadvantage in many encounters, because there will be a need to make sure you don’t use the DPS cooldown right before the boss forces you to move away due to an AoE, resulting in a DPS loss while the DPS cooldown is not being used.

So I present two Cooldown Subsystems that help deal with these situations.

Recharge/Reload

This is essentially a Skill that replaces the concept of Cooldown with Recharge or Reload, granting it a Use every X seconds.

Example:

You could think of a Shotgun that reloads 1 unit at a time every 2s, and can store up to 7 units, which would take 14s total.

You can always keep shooting, but if you shoot more often than every 2 seconds, you will end up having to wait 2 seconds per shot.

Recharge/Reload doesn’t change how often you use a Skill, from an abstract point of view.

Practically speaking, however, it gives you burst at the start of combat, and as such it should not be made available for powerful damage abilities, but abilities you want to use well.

WoW adopted this mechanic when Cataclysm came out.

Overcool

Overcool is my own original idea - at least I haven’t seen anywhere else.

With X Overcool, you can wait up to X additional seconds after a skill finishes the Cooldown, and the next time you use it, its Cooldown will be X seconds shorter.

This is most useful for DPS cooldowns, displacement abilities (Dash, Teleport) and Interrupts.

Example:

PGL’s Internal Release has 60s Cooldown. So it can be use once every 60s. However, it often ends up being used every 62s or longer.

So let’s imagine it has a 10s Overcool - this means after it finishes the 60s Cooldown, you can wait up to 10 additional seconds.

As a result, if you wait - for example - 8 additional seconds, for a total of 68s (60+8), the next time you use Internal Release, it will trigger a 52s Cooldown (60-8).

Failsafe - If starting combat with Overcooled abilities is deemed unfair, make Overcool decay or even reset after a few seconds outside combat, and only build up during combat.

Overcool doesn’t change how often you use a Skill, since to use it in shorter intervals, you must first compensate with a longer interval.

It merely makes waiting for the right time to use a skill not feel like a penalty.

1.7 - Global Cooldowns (Back to Index)

If properly implemented, Global Cooldowns aren’t too bad.

The game needs a way to:

- Enforce a maximum average frequency of skill usage

- Prevent peaks of skill spam in a short frame which would slow the server to a halt

Global cooldown is one way to do it.

The big problem with Global Cooldowns is that it inhibits skill design.

In FFXIV, it’s particularly bad.

All animations are SHORTER than the GCD, which means the effectiveness of skills is inevitably the same.

This is why nearly all attack skills are 130-150 Potency.

SE can’t do much more than that, without adding incredible cooldowns to skills, because all skill effectiveness is measured in - you guessed it - global cooldowns.

How to improve it?

One of two possible changes:

A) Variety of Global Cooldowns - The Easiest

  1. Major GCD, for most Skills - this can remain the 2.5 seconds
  2. Combo GCD, for Skills that are used in a Combo - this could be 1.5s, meaning Savage Blade can be used 1.5s after Fast Blade.
  3. Minor GCD, for Skills like shouts and self-buffs that can be used during other Skills.

B) Variety of Animation Duration - The Complete

  1. GCD is used only to handle skills that are meant to be useable during other skills, such as Stances, Shouts and certain Self-Buffs.
  1. Certain skills may also share a cooldown among each other, but that is a separate matter.
  1. Add 3 characteristics to all Skills:
  1. Startup - The time it take to prepare the skill.
  1. This is effectively the cast time.
  2. Instant skills have 0 in this value.
  3. By default, Spells have the longest Startups, and Attacks have the lowest.
  1. Activation - When it activates.
  1. In spells, it’s the animation right after you finish casting, where you throw the fireball.
  2. By default, Attacks and channeled skills have the longest Activation, Spells have the lowest.
  1. Recovery - The time it takes to recover
  1. This is not the skill’s Cooldown.
  2. You can’t use any skills during this time, apart from Shouts, Stances and certain Self-Buffs
  3. By default, Spells have the lowest, and other Skills have moderate.
  1. Skills with long recovery should be exceptionally powerful ones, of any kind. This could include Limit Breaks.
  1. When 2 Skills Combo, the Recovery of the previous Skill and the Startup of the next are reduced.
  1. In terms of animation, it simply means it either accelerates or the Recovery is replaced with the Startup.

Example: Fast Blade -> Savage Blade.

Assuming Fast Blade has 0.2 S, 1 A and 0.3 R (1,5 total); and Savage Blade has 0.3 S, 1.2 A and 0.5 R (2s total), when you Combo them together, the Fast Blade’s R and Savage Blade’s S end up with a total of 0.3s instead of 0.6s.

Combined, these 3 concepts allow Developers to design skills in any way they want.

They can design skills with long cast time, low activation and no recovery; no cast time, low activation and long recovery, and so forth - no global cooldown needed.

1.8 - Auto-Attack

I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention this.

It’s one of the few things I dislike about WoW combat, and SE went ahead and adopted it.

I don’t dislike the concept of Auto-Attack per se.

Auto-Attack is a filler, and relieves players from having to either constantly tap a filler Skill at a fixed rate to maximize DPS - or simply standing around doing nothing - while waiting for the cooldowns and/or resources needed to use Attack Skills.

The problem is in how the interaction between Auto-Attack and Attack Skills is often ruined.

Auto-attacks going off simultaneously while using Attack Skills is more than unnecessary - it’s actually bad:

  1. It forces Developers to make Skills weaker, since the DPS you’re intended to have is spread between Auto-Attack and Skills, as they are used simultaneously.
  2. If you enjoy the slightest amount of realism, it simply makes no sense that your character somehow performed a simple attack during that awesome skill you just used.

Examples of good Auto-Attack systems are:

Guild Wars 1

Here, you have the conventional Auto-Attack, but when you use a Skill, it actually QUEUES the Skill to replace your next Auto-Attack.

        They do not occur simultaneously.

Tera Online

You don’t really have Auto-Attacks, but skills flow fairly well from one to the next, and the Basic Combo, which is the closest to Auto-Attack, merely requires you to hold the left-mouse button to perform a continuous loop of Attacks.

Although I prefer Tera Online’s pseudo-Auto-Attack system, I find Guild Wars 1’s more adequate to FFXIV, with a twist.

Variable Auto-Attack Queue:

With this, Attack Skills can feel realistically powerful, since you either perform an Auto-Attack, or an Attack Skill.

With this and the Variety of Animation Duration suggestion:

1.9 - Skill Variety (Back to Index)

This is something that is incredibly lacking in FFXIV.

First, since skills are ruled by a Global Cooldown, they all have roughly the same effect.

        Almost all damage skills have 130-150 Potency, depending on any extra effects.

Secondly, you pretty much only have click and go skills, with simple, straight-forward effects.

        The worst is, the types of skills that are missing, are arguably the most fun - meaning the game lacks flavour:

        1 - Interrupts - this is such a great mechanic in any game, it’s very sad we don’t see it in FFXIV.

                Note: I’m not referring to Stuns, just pure Interrupts.

2 - Multi-hit - even “supposedly” multi-hit skills, like Limit Breaks or Bootshine (PGL) only deal damage once.

3 - Continuous/Channeled (drains MP/TP continuously) - only BRD has a few, and they’re buffs.

        We should have interesting stuff such as channeling a firestorm or spinning continuously, or hacking everything in a cone in front of you every X seconds.

4 - Charged - variable power skills that become stronger the longer you hold them

5 - Displacement (Dash, Leap and Teleport) - only DRN have a few, but with very high cooldowns (from 60 to 180s).

        This is mandatory.

6 - Destructible (Totems, Prison, Walls, Summons)

        Having skills that can be countered with damage rather than dispeling adds to a game’s feel of combat dynamic.

7 - Zone (Rituals, Wards, etc)

        Buffs that stay in a specific area.

Also, some rituals might empower the caster, changing the nature of hi spells - like a Ritual of Air empowering CNJ spellcasting in a unique way, adding AoE to some spells, etc.

8 - Transformation (Vincent Valentine Limit Breaks, Druidic Animal Shapes, etc)

This is connected to Input Variety. See below.

1.10 - Input Variety (Back to Index)

Currently, all skills have a static press-to-use input.

While it does its job, there’s are several kinds of Input Types that actually make skill usage more effective, and fun.

Hold -> Hold keybind to charge or even change the skill being used.

Example #1: Overpower (MRD) might have a 1-4 sec cast time, with thresholds at the seconds 0.5, 1,5 and 2,5.

Immediate Release -> Unleashes attack at the second 1.

If you hold more than 0.5 seconds (0.5 lower than its minimum cast time), it improves effect and unleashes attack at the second 2.

If you hold more than 1.5 seconds (0.5 lower than its new cast time), it improves effect and unleashes attack at the second 3.

If you hold more than 2.5 seconds (0.5 lower than its new cast time), it improves effect and unleashes attack at the second 4.

Example #2: You start casting Fire, which takes 2 seconds.

If you hold the keybind for 1s, which is 1s lower than its 2s cast, it changes from Fire to Fira/Fire II and its cast time increases from 2s to 2.5s.

If you continue holding for another 0.75s, which is still 0.75s lower than its new 2.5s cast, it changes from Fira/Fire II to Firaga/Fire III, and its cast time increases from 2.5s to 3s.

Condition -> While under certain conditions, skill changes.

Example: While you are poisoned, True Thrust (LNC) becomes Poison Thrust, transfering Poison from you to the enemy in addition to its current effects.

Combine/Sequence -> Press different skill during cast of first skill

Example #1: Press Stone to begin casting Stone, and before 1 second has passed, press Aero to change Stone into Sandstorm, which may have a different cast time.

Example #2: Use Jump (DRN) and immediately press a direction:

- Nothing = you stay where you land

- Backward = you return to initial point.

- Forward = same as Backward, but as if your initial point was behind the target.

- Left/Right Strafe/Turn = same as Backward, but as if your initial point was on the left/right side of your target.

1.11 - Combos (Back to Index)

Combos give a game a great deal of potential for depth and combat dynamic.

But if there are few combos and no branching, it actually ends up being a bad thing, because it further enhances repetition.

So it is important that you have various combos competing for a spot in your rotation, such that you must decide which is best for the ocasion.

Combos need to vary in size, as well as branch, such as A->B->C, A->B->D and A->E.

Example: You might anticipate that you need to move out of a boss’ range soon, so instead of performing a 3-4 skill combo, and be interrupted halfway you just perform a 2 skill combo ending up with a better result.

Combos can even loop as long as there are branches and size variety.

Ideally, most skills should combo with most other skills, each combination providing a different effect, but that would be time consuming to implement.

Then again, what good combat system isn’t?

1.12 - Limit Breaks (Back to Index)

Animations

It would be awesome if each Class had its own Limit Breaks, but at the very least, they need a proper animation for them - i.e: Lancer using Spear and Pugilist using Hands/Feet.

1.12.1 - Teamwork versus Individualism (Back to Index)

It’s important to have a feeling of teamwork in the game.

However, I believe Limit Breaks are not the best way to do it.

Limit Breaks have become an iconic presence in FF games, and were always representative of a character’s individual skill and unique fighting style.

Tying them to group activity detracts from that feeling.

Currently, Limit Breaks are a simple combat bonus, that may presently feel dynamic, but in the most challenging content it will ultimately be determined who will use a Limit Break and when, way before the encounter begins.

You will know that there’s a certain Phase in a Boss that a certain Limit Break makes considerably easier, and someone will be given the task to use it at the right time.

Limit Breaks will no longer feel special once the game reaches that point, and it does not take long for that to happen.

Limit Breaks will feel special if they reward decision-making during combat - not pre-combat.

With that in mind, I completely agree with Limit Breaks being empowered or more effective in group content - but that is already handled by the nature of the encounters themselves.

From a logical point of view, you are empowered in a group due to inspiration, comradery, and sense of greater purpose - this can be reflected in improved Limit Break effects.

However, they should not be restricted to group content.

There are dangers in implementing Individual Limit Breaks, but they can be dealt with - they are not impeditive at all.

For a true group content mechanic, I believe the normal skills are much better candidates, since they are abilities that in general don’t feel special - you spam or rotate them - and as such can be made to feel extremely special in a group with specific mechanics.

See Team Combos for more.

How to properly implement Limit Breaks, in my opinion?

1.12.2 - Individual Limit Gauge (Back to Index)

  1. Keep the Party Limit Gauge, but add Individual Limit Gauges as well.
  1. Limit Breaks can be used anywhere.
  2. Individual Limit Gauge decays outside combat.
  3. Party Limit Gauge is only available in group-specific content.
  4. Only you can spend your Individual Gauge, but the Party Gauge is still shared.
  5. You always spend your Individual Gauge first.
  6. You spend either your Individual Gauge or the Party Gauge - they do NOT combine.
  1. Your actions build both your Individual and the Party Gauge independently, possibly at different rates.
  2. To deal with the addition of Individual Limit Gauges, you can:
  1. Reduce the effectiveness of Limit Breaks, but keeping them clearly strong
  2. Reduce the speed at which each Gauge fills
  3. Increase the health of group enemies
  4. The end result should be a somewhat similar overall limit break effectiveness.
  1. You should have Limit Break Lv1, Lv2 and Lv3, as 3 separate skills in the General Actions Tab, so that you can choose to use Limit Break Lv1 even when Level 3 is charged up, thus using a single Level.

1.12.3 - Limit Break Modes (Back to Index)

Limit Break Modes would determine what actions build up the Gauges, providing another layer of strategy, for both solo and group content.

Examples of Modes:

http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Overdrive_Mode

  1. You might be able to set a Mode that determines how you build your Individual Gauge, and another that determines how you contribute for the Party Gauge.
  2. You might have more than 1 “Mode” slot
  1. Advanced Modes might be added, with two different effects, one of them possibly oriented towards group content, like Comrade in the link above, which builds gauge when allies (not yourself) are hit, and as such is useless in solo environment.
  1. Additional Mode types include “on crit”, “on auto-attack”, etc, to accomodate various fighting styles.

1.12.4 - Limit Break Concept (Back to Index)

I always thought Renzokuken (Squall Limit Break from FF8) feels like the ideal Limit Break startup.

I think a similar concept would be amazing for ARR, if implemented properly.

To establishing a parallel, let’s imagine the various attacks that Squall performs before the “Finisher” as the various attack skills you regularly use in your rotation; and the “Finisher” as the “true” Limit Break.

In terms of implementation, it would go something like this:

  1. You initiate Rough Divide
  1. This would be “off” the Global Cooldown, like Internal Release (PGL) or Raging Blows (ARC) - thus possible to use during attack skills.
  1. For X seconds, the Limit Break is merely a buff, and you are expected to perform your skills normally, and deal as much damage as possible with them.
  2. Once the X seconds are up, you perform the actual Limit Break - the Finisher - and its damage scales based on the damage you dealt while the buff was active.
  3. Additionally, in the spirit of Renzokuken, you might have the Renzokuken Gauge, and if you press the various skills you use in your rotation at the right time, it further increases the Finisher’s damage.
  4. Alternatively, it could be exactly like Renzokuken, with different finishers - instead of different damage - based on how well you did with damage dealt and/or timing.

I’m not saying all Limit Breaks should be like this - specially not the Tank or Healer Limit Breaks - as sometimes you need burst damage immediately, not 5 seconds later.

I’m just saying it would be an interesting concept to have for a Limit Break, when compared to the usual “press button to activate cinematic” scheme.

1.13 - Team Combos (Back to Index)

In cooperative activities, nothing beats that feeling of thinking as one.

That feeling when everyone in the same wavelength - as if you can read each others’ minds.

Once you become comfortable with your class, the skill usage comes out naturally, and you find yourself yearning for more challenge, as if you’re beating the class.

In my opinion, a great addition to the game, would be the ability to mix abilities of different characters, and apply effects strictly for group content purposes.

1.13.1 - Burst (Back to Index)

Burst could be added to the General Tab.

The goal would be applying chain effects, or even mixing skills together.

It would have a small cooldown (15 seconds) and have no global cooldown, meaning you can use it and immediately begin another action.

By using Burst, you “initiate” a combo, and the following skill will determine its effect.

Example #1:

White Mage uses Burst followed by Cure on a Dragoon. The Dragoon then uses True Thrust, and it becomes - hypotetically - Holy Lance, dealing holy damage to the target, and healing allies near the enemy target.

        Although all spear attacks would be renamed Holy Lance when combined with Cure, they would nevertheless retain their original properties and animations - the Holy Lance properties and visual effects are merely added on top of it.

Different weapons would change to a similar name, like Holy Sword, but the properties gained might vary between weapon types/classes/jobs.

Example #2:

Lancer uses Burst followed by Feint, adding a debuff that triggers a benefit for the next X attacks used against that target by other players - like taking increased damage.

This encourages coordinated effort.

1.14 - Accuracy & Critical Hit (Back to Index)

This is mostly food for thought.

  1. Why is it that in almost every MMO out there, we employ amazing fighting techniques capable of slaying dragons, can easily hit small beings such as rabbits, but find ourselves failing to hit colossal rock elementals - all due to a formula of Level vs Accuracy - and I’m not talking about having evasion, block or parry. I mean a complete miss from our part.
  2. Why is it that Accuracy (and Evasion) is a binary mechanic (all or nothing)? We always either hit (100%) or miss (0%). Why can’t we scrape or graze a target?
  3. Why are Critical Hits a separate mechanic from Accuracy? Isn’t a Critical Hit a perfect hit? The opposite of that is - you guessed it - a miss.
  4. Is the current Accuracy even fun? To have chance dictate that all your skill and effort are nullified with a miss?
  5. WoW has made it very clear that Accuracy is inherently incompatible with Gear Tiers.
  1. Once you reach level Cap, at a certain gear quality, you need - hypotetically - 26 Accuracy to negate miss chance.
  2. As you move up in Gear Tiers, you still only need - hypotetically - 26 Accuracy to negate miss chance.
  1. The result is that you will end up investing - hypotetically - 40% of your gear into Accuracy at lower tiers, and less than 20% at higher tiers, creating a massive inflation in damage - since you can invest into all the other damage stats - which in turn greatly unbalances Damage vs Survivability vs Healing.

As a conclusion, I think Accuracy and Critical should be one and the same stat, and should not be a binary system (all or nothing).

This way, the number of Stats doesn’t change, and the combat system as a whole makes more sense.

1.15 - Friendly Fire (Back to Index)

This is something you don’t really see nearly anywhere in the MMORPG industry - the concept of having your own skills able to hit you and your allies, thus requiring positioning and aiming.

I just thought I’d share this here, even though it’s not very meaningful for ARR, since this would require the ability to aimed skills rather than homing skills.

2 - Class/Job System (Back to Index)

I’ve always loved freedom and customizability, and this system has the right potential.

However, some of its features are also its limitations.

2.1 - Weapon Archetypes (Back to Index)

Certain weapons are very important to alot of players, and are deeply missed in this game.

I sincerely hope they are added - properly, ofcourse.

Those I consider very important - for alot of players - are:

Two-handed Sword

Dual-Wielded Daggers

According to my personal taste, I also add:

Two-handed Hammer

Two-handed Scythe

2.2 - Defining Class/Job (Back to Index)

Currently, it’s defined by the Mainhand Arm/Tool

This severely restricts the addition of new Classes, at least if you want to avoid depending on convoluted changes, like splitting swords into short sword, long sword and bastard sword.

An effective solution, is making Class/Job defined by both Mainhand & Offhand Arm/Tool.

Examples (Class names are illustrative):

Better yet would be giving Classes a broad range of Weapon combinations, to accomodate the addition of more Jobs in the future.

Examples (Class names are illustrative):

2.3 - Leveling Additional Classes/Jobs (Back to Index)

The Hunting Log isn’t enough to level a class.

As you level additional Disciplines of War or Magic, you will run out of quests, forcing you into running repeatable content such as Fates and Leves.

It can get frustrating, because at that point, you’re at a level where you have a few classes with developed fighting styles, and are used to a certain degree of complexity.

Suddenly grabbing a low level Class can feel underwhelming.

In my opinion, the solution to this is rather simple, and balanced.

For Disciplines of War and Magic only, you should gain a bonus to your experience equal to the sum of the positive difference between the Class/Job you’re leveling, and all the other Disciplines of War and Magic.

As you level up, this bonus decreases, because your level becomes closer to the others’.

It’s more easily explained with an example:

I am now leveling CNJ (5), but I already have PGL (18) and MRD (24). All other Disciplines of War and Magic are at or below 5, so they don’t count (since the difference is negative).

Since PGL is 13 levels higher and MRD is 19 levels higher, I gain a 13+19=32% experience bonus to my CNJ (5).

At CNJ (10), the bonus becomes 8+14=22%; and at CNJ (18), it becomes 6%.

So it merely helps getting closer to your other classes.

It allows SE to make the base leveling as slow as they want, for a rich and immersive experience, while making sure additional classes do not feel tedious to level up.

3 - Traits & Skills (Back to Index)

Traits are a great way to make a Class feel special.

Unfortunately, the way they are implemented, antagonizes customization.

It’s such that if anyone wants to play slightly different, needs to pray for a new Class.

How to improve this?

3.1 - Trait & Skill System (Back to Index)

As I mentioned above, Traits and Skills currently give you the opposite of customization. They define and impose a specific gameplay onto each and every Class or Job.

In my opinion, you should have a bigger pool of Skills and Traits on any given Class, but a limited ability to equip them.

You would be given a limited amount of Class-specific Skill Slots and Trait Slots.

Example: Marauder might have both STR and VIT traits available, but due to a limited amount of Trait Slots, you would need to pick the Traits you want to use.

If you want to play more aggressive, as sort of an off-tank, you might get STR traits plus extended Bloodbath.

The “Increased Enmity” function of various Skills might be available as Traits, otherwise a STR marauder would always steal threat from a VIT marauder.

So let’s say you would be able to equip around 60% of your Class’ Skills and 40% of your Class’ Traits.

3.2 - Cross Class Traits (Back to Index)

We already have Cross Class Skills, and Skill Slots.

However, alot of them are rather useless, or certain Classes/Jobs simply do not combine, because the Skills you can use with a different class are not useful enough without a certain Trait.

My suggestion is adding Cross Class Traits.

  1. There would be less Trait Slots, comparing to Skill Slots.
  1. Example: 1 every 10 levels for Traits, and 1 every 5 levels for Skills.
  1. Just like Skills, Traits would have Class/Job/Discipline Requirements.

Properly implemented, this means you can have a little more from other Classes, and possibly feel like a Hybrid.

3.3 - Independent Traits & Skills (Back to Index)

These would be Traits and Skills that do not belong to a Class.

They might be obtained through specific events, or by evolving in multiple Disciplines.

This is specially useful as it allows SE to introduce a stronger concept of Hybrids - which as Classes would not make much sense, as they would need to be both Disciple of War and Disciple of Magic.

Examples:

Aether Strikes (Trait)

Grants a charge (Max: 3) everytime you hit with a Weapon Skill.

At 3 charges, your next Spell consumes the charges and becomes Instant and has no Global Cooldown - so you can use the Spell and immediately start an attack skill.

Learn: 2 Disciplines of War Lv10 and 2 Disciplines of Magic Lv10

Iron Force (Trait)

Increases INT by X% of your STR bonuses (not Base), including Bonus Attribute Points, Gear and Traits. Ignore all other INT bonuses.

Requires: Disciple of War.

Learn: LNC or PGL Lv20 and THM Lv20

Other versions of this Trait:

3.4 - Skill & Trait Capacity (Back to Index)

Skills don’t have an equivalent value - some are more useful than others.

As such, some are rarely worth taking as a cross-class skill.

The same would be true for cross-class traits, and even class skills and traits.

The ideal - in my opinion - is something similar to FFIX’s Support Abilities, but handled individually as Skills and Traits - instead of Skill Slots and Trait Slots, you have 4 different Capacities: Class Skill, Class Trait, Cross Skill and Cross Trait.

This would be a value that would grow with level - just like the current Skill Slots do.

Each Skill and Trait would occupy a respective amount of Capacity, corresponding to their relative usefulness.

You can equip as many Skills and Traits as you want, as long as you don’t surpass their respective Capacity.

This way, Skills and Traits can have their value increased or decreased to turn as many of them as possible into attractive options.

4 - Battle System vs Battle Content (Back to Index)

Here I don’t intend to discuss Battle Content per se, but rather how the Battle System and Battle Content interact - often in a poorly designed fashion.

4.1 - PvE versus PvP (Back to Index)

Something that happens in all MMOs, is that PvP and PvE become extremely different.

Sometimes it is designed to be that way from Launch - but most of the time it simply slowly becomes that way.

What are the usual problems?

What do Developers usually do?

To me, none of the above is a solution - it’s merely hiding the symptoms.

It splits the game into two.

Where’s the feeling of World?

What is the real solution?

I believe you need to start by removing the differences, and making the game feel cohese.

4.1.1 - Aggro/Threat/Enmity for both NPCs and Players (Back to Index)

How can Enmity be handled in a way that makes it okay to affect players?

Usually, if you draw the highest Enmity from a specific NPC, it will only attack you.

        This would be unfair for players - to be forced to attack a single target against their will.

What if instead Enmity has (at least some of) the following properties:

  1. There is an Enmity threshold - like 80% - above which all targets are valid.
  2. Targets that are below 80% Enmity, may still be targetable, but single-target attacks and skills used by that Unit against them won’t have full effectiveness, since the Unit is focused on the targets in above 80%.
  3. There can be Attributes, Traits and Skills that affect the various behaviors around Enmity.

This means if you want to avoid being targetted by an enemy - NPC or player - you must draw less than 80% Enmity - comparing to other targets that are available to that unit.

Example:

        Players A and B are fighting Players C and D in a 2v2 match.

        As fight progresses, each player draws a certain amount of Enmity from his opponents.

                At some point...

Player A has 80 Enmity towards C and 90 towards D

        Since 80 is ~88,9% of 90, Player A can target both C and D.

Player B has 60 Enmity towards C and 45 towards D

        Since 45 is 75% of 60, and thus lower than 80%, Player B can only target Player C.

---

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely mine,

Nurvus

Contact: archreonum@gmail.com

PS: Please hire me!