I’m gonna just use this Design section as my idea splattering canvas if y’all don’t mind.
Anyways, I’ve been trying to think through the Fatigue system for a while; one of my friends mentioned it as something to consider for Exalted Legacy, so here I am, considering it. I read a thing about sportsball injuries today, and it gave some ideas for how fatigue might work better as a gameplay mechanic.
Part One: Fatigue as a gameplay mode?
Ignore this section it was a half-baked idea.
In Exalted Legacy, I’ve already decided to include a Casual Mode option. Fatigue, as I’m envisioning it, would be a good complimentary addition, because players can challenge themselves with a Casual/Fatigue combination (creating more gradients of difficulty). Ideally, players would be greeted by a screen resembling this mockup after starting a new game.
Perhaps players could even be allowed to access this menu freely from the preparations screen (undecided on this myself). I wrote about the merits of free access to a difficulty toggle in my last concept post. The other options were thrown in there to illustrate the overall point; perhaps allowing players to freely toggle between fixed/random growth would also help make the game more accessible, and the rankings toggle seems self-explanatory enough.
Part Two: Fatigue Mechanics
Anyways, here’s some thoughts on how fatigue could work as a mechanic.
Unit actions are counted, like in FE5. +1 to the fatigue counter for each attack/staff use.
The fatigue counter can be decreased by visiting a village for -3 fatigue. While a unit is being rescued, their fatigue decreases by -1 each turn. Using a recovery item decreases fatigue in progressive amounts (-1 for Vulnerary, -2 for Tonic, -5 for Elixir; there’s no need for the Stamina Drink, in FE5 the unit was basically either sitting out, or at 0).
The basic goal is to integrate the fatigue counter into a wider variety of actions, so that it becomes more of a present factor in gameplay decisions.
Fatigue is represented to the player as a status condition: Rested/Normal/Tired/Fatigued. A unit is “Rested” when their fatigue counter is > 1/4 of Max HP. “Normal” ranges from 1/4 Max HP down to the 3/4ths mark, when the unit becomes “Tired.” The “Fatigued” condition only applies at 0.
When a unit sits out for the chapter, their fatigue gauge refills to the max. At the end of each chapter, a deployed unit will recover 1/4 of their Max HP to their fatigue gauge (otherwise it carries over).
Various penalties come with the “Tired” and “Fatigued” states. When “Tired,” a unit will lose their weapon triangle advantage boosts. All of these penalties carry over to the lower states; when “Fatigued,” the unit also cannot Rescue others, and expose themselves to the risk of injury. If a fatigued unit loses over half of their Max HP total in a battle, they now have the “Injured” status. “Injured” units retreat from the map, and will be forced to sit out the next chapter (perhaps if we wanted to get super hardcore, injury could result in permanent stat loss–could be a “harder modes only” thing). After sitting out one chapter, they will revert back to “Normal” status (i.e. their fatigue counter gets reset to 3/4 Max HP).
Otherwise, if you’re good enough to avoid injury and fight through the penalties, you can keep using your units. It still encourages party rotation by making the only fatigue reset available through having units sit out, but does not overtly force this penalty upon players. In conjunction with Casual mode, Fatigue can be a compromise mode for players who feel that permanent death is too high of a price in an RPG. With the traditional Classic players, it gives them a nice throwback mode that adds additional challenge with every combination.
[3:28:24 PM] BwdYeti: initial reaction is [fatigue] changes the game too much [to just be something you can turn on and off]
[3:28:29 PM] BwdYeti: it’s something you have to design the game around
[3:28:52 PM] BwdYeti: so adding it to a game it’s not designed around will make things crazy weird [and possibly cause unwinnable scenarios], and being able to turn it off in a game it is designed around will break the balance
Other than that the actual mechanics of how you’d do fatigue sound alright.
You use the Up/Down arrows to go between the options and whichever one you’re on the hand would move back and forth but I can’t illustrate that in one screenshot.
My basic goal with the mechanics were to implement fatigue more broadly than FE5. At the same time, I feel that this makes the system more apt to be a gradient of the game’s balance, rather than a central balancing point. Fatigue would add to the basic difficulty by adding penalties for unit over-use, rather than define it.
The problem is that, in a simpler, more isolated form (where only attacks count and only the S. Drink or sitting out will restore you), consequences feel harsher to players who don’t have the S. Drink in stock. To me it seems simple enough still, yet more integrated at the same time; visit something or heal yourself to reduce fatigue, attacking, using a staff, and moving longer distances will give you a point for each, sit out to reset the counter to 0, or keep going and risk that unit being forced to retreat mid-chapter and sit out the next one. Maybe it would be better to just give the fatigue counter instead of the states, maybe both in conjunction would be good. But I don’t really see it as being terribly complex. It makes the game harder by adding more variables that the player has to control for, yes. But we do that all the time by adding enemies in hard mode, or making them stronger, for example; it’s simply increasing the importance of variables for the player to manage. Fatigue does this by punishing overuse, adding consequences to something that players should already be controlling for (because EXP distribution is important, too); that’s the intent, not necessarily to force rotation (that is merely a beneficial byproduct).
I was never a huge fan of FE5’s fatigue mechanic anyway, not because it was too black-and-white (that is a problem to less experienced players), but because it was something that I never cared about 90% of the time but then had to meticulously plan around 10% of the time. I think one big problem with the fatigue system is that it’s really, really hard to plan around:
First of all, fatigue state is compared to max HP, and max HP changes over time, so it’s harder to predict when a unit will cross a fatigue threshold.
Secondly, even someone such as myself who plans an entire playthrough ahead of time can’t accurately plan how much fatigue a unit will accumulate by a certain point. So fatigue is more of a tactical thing, i.e., you try to play around it as you go. I can’t really give an objective argument against this; I can only say that it’s unsatisfying to deal with something that’s unpredictable and restrictive.
Those are my grievances with the mechanic as a broad concept. As for your suggestions, in addition to the complexity (e.g., why make moving 5 tiles accumulate fatigue? It’s way simpler to do all or nothing movement = +1 fatigue), I can see there potential for abuse in the mechanic of a fatigued unit retreating at half HP, because that essentially means that unit is in some sort of Casual Mode state for that chapter.
That’s a bit different from managing fatigue. Managing fatigue is more like managing weapon/item uses, but it’s also much more feasible to manage weapon uses because fewer actions cost weapon uses.
Honestly I think that fatigue would work much better as a concept if it worked in inverse. A fatigued unit, for example, might never get weapon triangle advantage, and that’s the worst thing that can happen. A fresh unit (i.e., one that has sat out a chapter and starts battle at 0 fatigue) might get some sort of non-trivial bonus for the entirety of that chapter. It seems better to encourage unit rotation by rewarding the player for letting a unit sit out than by penalizing him for not letting a unit sit out.
It’s 5 tiles because T1 armors would never hit that threshold, and that T1 foot units would have to move their entire range to trigger it, so they would rarely get a double penalty for moving and attacking, but it’s mostly for mounted units since they’re the most likely to be affected by it.
Also, thanks for the observation. The idea was that in Casual mode, units who reach 0 HP would enter the “Injured” state and be forced to sit out the next chapter. Casual/Fatigue works well enough, since it just escalates the retreat threshold for units based on how much you use them. Classic/Fatigue that might be a bit too abuse-able, you’re right; maybe Classic mode players could be subjected to permanent stat losses (-2 across the board, sans mov/con) as a result of injuries? But that’s just adding another layer of complexity.
More interesting thoughts, I do appreciate the feedback. My inclination was to give a bonus for the “Rested” state, yes. That incentivizes rotation by giving players a carrot, while the injury risk mechanic makes that incentive two-pronged (with the stick). Otherwise units could just keep fighting without the triangle bonuses without really losing much in performance.
If fatigue is on you can’t revisit houses. Problem solved.
If you want to avoid penalizing armors, I think a better idea would be to accumulate +1 extra fatigue if a unit double attacks in a round of combat. Armors rarely get to double attack, so they accumulate fatigue slower.
Ultimately mechanics that prohibit a player from doing something (deploying a unit in this case) are somewhat unpalatable, especially if it’s not a core mechanic. Fire Emblem really isn’t a game about fatigue. Unfortunately if that means that people are just going to keep using their Haar-equivalent even if his fatigue is off the charts, then that’s what they’re going to do; you should be not designing a Haar-equivalent anyway.
This is also a good thing to note; the problem is that tying it to something relatively static (like CON, perhaps?) makes fatigue an increasing burden as chapters become larger. It’d probably be best to display fatigue as a bar, which tracks the counter and displays it out of Max HP (draw lines for each state threshold). That way, even though it’s proportional, players have an easier visual cue.
[quote=“dondon151, post:11, topic:906”]
If you want to avoid penalizing armors, I think a better idea would be to accumulate +1 extra fatigue if a unit double attacks in a round of combat. Armors rarely get to double attack, so they accumulate fatigue slower.[/quote]
Good point. I was already intending to count it per attack instead of per battle, but doing both is double-dipping so I’ll scrap the movement penalty.