I'm developing a new monster taming/hunting game and I wanted to make some changes to the battle mechanics. Which would you find more fun and can you offer any suggestions to improve on what I've done. I'm leaning more to just option 2 although it will be a bit more difficult to deal with the AI.

Current base for the mechanics:

  • 2 monsters face off head to head
  • They use different moves to damage each other trying to kill the other.
  • Various non damaging moves can be used to (increase/decrease stats, cause poison, paralyzing effects)
  • There are different types of attacks that can be resisted or more effective against certain types of monsters (eg. Holy attacks do extra damage to Demons).

Basically, I'm starting with the simple Pokemon style battle. I would like to add either one or both of these changes:

Option 1: Add in a recovery stat for moves so that the "turns" are based on how much the monster has to recover. When a monster uses a move, the move's recovery stat is added to the monster's. When a monster's recovery stat reaches 0 it can perform a move. Explode - A high damaging move requires 50 recovery after being used. Poke - A smaller damaging move requires 20 recovery after being used. (Both start at 0 recovery, A goes first just because)

  1. Monster A uses Explode (its recovery is at 50)
  2. Monster B uses Poke (its recovery is at 20)
  3. a check is done to see which has lower recovery and they go next (20 "time units" goes by and A now has 30 recovery, B is down to 0 and can perform a move again.
  4. Monster B uses Poke again (recovery at 20) (A is still at 30)
  5. Another 20 "time units" goes by and A is at 10 and B is at 0 again.
  6. Monster B can attack again

This adds a timing element to the battle. Instead of each monster being able to attack once a turn, you can use smaller attacks or status changing moves quickly before your opponent recovers from their attack. Status effects may cause a monster to require more recovery each turn (like a slowing effect) or a hasting effect could be applied.

Option 2: Use 2 monsters in the same battle with a forward and rear position. Moves have a range value that determines if you can hit the forward, rear, or both monsters.

I think generally, melee style attacks would be higher damage but only affect the forward monster. You would often want a tank (high defense) monster to take these hits with a ranged attacker in the rear position like an archer or mage. Certain moves could damage both positions and you could have the option of having the monsters switch positions.

I think the strategy wouldn't be limited to a melee tank in the front with ranged in the back, as a melee tank may be susceptible to special attacks and certain monsters would do more damage in the front while being vulnerable to attack.

Example moves that take advantage of this mechanic:

  1. Intercept - forward monster takes the next attack aimed at the rear position.
  2. Force switch - forces the opponent monsters to switch positions
  3. Pierce - 1/2 damage is done to the rear position if an attack on the front is successful.
  4. Dragon's breath - all monsters (including your forward position if you are the rear) in front of you are hit with fire damage. (this would be a good move to switch your positions prior to using)
  5. Goblin Mortar - fires 3 spaces away (requires the attacker to be in the rear to hit the rear opponent)
  • \$\begingroup\$ Both options sound interesting and they are not exclusive to each other. You might just want to test a few battles on paper against a friend, to see if they are actually fun or just draw out the fight unnecessarily. \$\endgroup\$
    – Darcara
    Aug 1, 2012 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ As these sorts of battle systems have existed for ages in JRPG games like the Final Fantasy series, it might be a good idea to observe and be inspired by them. This is particularly relevant for Option 2, as battles there routinely have more than one participant on both sides. You also have some inspiration for time-based battle systems, as they vary a lot between games. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2, 2012 at 7:12

2 Answers 2


Use Option 1.

Option 2 will lead to most of the game being based around finding a way to quickly establish a 2 vs. 1 situation. Front-loaded attacks, crowd control debuffs, and other moves that look fine at first will all quickly get out of hand when they can be combined to remove one character from the match for a few turns.

  • \$\begingroup\$ THanks Jim, such as simple problem that would be very difficult to overcome in game design. I'll stick with Option 1 for now and possibly revisit Option 2 later if I feel like adding another mechanic. \$\endgroup\$
    – willmer
    Aug 3, 2012 at 14:38

With option one, the order of attacks becomes important. This causes player to take into account which order they should use the attack in relation to other attacks, even if the attack would not usually depends on each other.

Example (I apologize for the syntax coloring):

Poke - 10 damage, 10 recover
Explode - 40 damage, 40 recover
Both players have 50 health
Case #1:
Player 1 - Explode
Player 2 - Poke
Player 2 - Explode
Player 2 Wins
Case #2:
Player 1 - Poke
Player 2 - Explode
Player 1 - Explode
Player 1 Wins

This adds a uniques challenge because instead of always simply picking the most powerful attack. In case 1, player two found it useful to use a small attack first, allowing him to get two turns in a row and win. In case 2, player one prevented this.

Each time that the AI gets a turn, it could simply brute force all of the different possible attacks that each player could make and see who ends up with the most health a few turns into the future. This is actually pretty easy for a computer to do, even if there are dozens of attacks for each player to choose from.

When implementing option one, one thing to avoid is a situation of a low recovery time attack paired with a high damage attack. Using the same poke and explode attacks I used above, consider a player at 1 health (and 0 recovery since it is his turn) versus an opponent with 80 health and a 50 recovery. The first player could use the combination poke-poke-poke-poke-explode to kill the opponent without the opponent ever getting another turn to attack.

This negative effect can be countered by making it so that the recovery rates of different attacks are closer to being the same, so no player could ever get five turns in a row.

With option two, positioning of monsters is now important. Different attacks now cause different amounts of damages depending on where each monster is located. Players would have to think ahead as as to where to place his monsters to be both defensive and offensive.

This will mean that the AI would have to consider things such as swapping the position of its two monsters such that an attack is more damaging. This could still be solved using the brute force method, but each detail that needs to be taken into account slows the AI down.

Some things to look out for is the strategy of using both of one player's monsters to team up on one of the opponent's monsters. If the number of turns a player gets is at all dependent on the numbers of monsters he has alive, then a 2-1 fight is a very easy win.

It is always possible to combine both options as you see fit. They are not conflicting at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think for now I'll be going with Option 1 given what Jim said. I think it would both be difficult to code the AI and your strategy would always be to knock out one monster asap. It would be tough for me as a game designer to prolong the time it takes to get to a 2 v 1 without making the game less enjoyable. With option 1, I am going to be putting the damaging moves in a range based on the damage / recovery ratio. The base will be 1 with the highest being 1.33 or 1.5. Higher level monsters will be able to use the 1.33 or 1.5 ratio attacks but play testing may change that. \$\endgroup\$
    – willmer
    Aug 3, 2012 at 14:36

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