Dev Diary #1: Reaction System

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3 months ago (edited)

Hey there folks! Today we'll have our Gameplay Director Zaz give you a bit of insight on the Game Design side of things. If you want to know how we at Tactical Adventures are adapting Tabletop rules into video game, you're at the right place!

Hello fellow adventurers,

Here’s the first of a series of game design articles where we will be sharing some of our ideas, decisions, questions and philosophy with you. As you may already know, it's not always easy to adapt a Pen & Paper rules to PC. Sometimes though, it can be surprising how Tabletop rulesets naturally fit into a video game system.

What happens when the Mage goes in front of the Rogue? Trap happens. 

Today we'll take a look at the reaction system. It is a great feature and helps to add variety in combat, to provide cool moments and finally let you fully exploit specific spells like Shield or Feather Fall. Would you know, these were actually one of the first features we showcased in our early prototype! Now, we can’t wait to play with Counterspell - that's going to be quite something.

But reactions are not only used for spells - and if you're a fighter or a rogue, you'll be wanting to dish out opportunity attacks. Say you build an AI that only focuses on efficiency, you may never get one since the enemy might never walk out of attack range. That... would be a bit sad, wouldn't it? We want the AI in Solasta to not always do the most optimal action. They might simply get too scared to stay and try to escape, or decide on a whim that they have a more important enemy to attack than the one facing them, thus taking the risk of receiving an opportunity attack. Which is fine, as long as is doesn’t look stupid. But if we start talking about AI we won't ever be done, so we'll save it for another article - there’s plenty to say about it.

Looks like Violet is having a really bad day, first a Pitfall Trap and now Spiders...

We also have reactions that naturally work very well with a cell-based tactical game, like the Protection Fighting Style which allows you to impose disadvantage on an attack roll targeting an ally next to you. We liked the system so much that we added new reactions in our custom Solastan archetypes, and we’re still working on cool ways to use the reaction feature extensively so that smart players can optimize their efficiency by putting their characters in situations where reactions will be triggered.

Please note that while we like to give the player some time to think about whether to use their reaction or not, they still have a limited time window to make their decision. For something like an opportunity attack, you might think there’s no way you’re not going to take the reaction, so why are we not making automatic? Well... For instances where the reaction consumes a spell slot, you might want to think about it…for a few seconds. That’s why we have a countdown so you can take your time to decide, but not too much. Once the sandglass is empty, the reaction is cancelled, pure and simple. 

The system also works for decisions you take after certain conditions are met, such as Divine Smite

This is it for today, we hope you enjoy reading our train of thoughts! Don’t hesitate to toss in some comments and ideas.

Zaz

2 months ago (edited)

You can only take only one reaction during a combat round though. So if you cast a fireball, an enemy mage counters you, and you counter his counter, that is the end of reactions for this round for these two characters.

Ok but this then means whoever goes first has a huge advantage. They get to both act and counter, whereas the target of your act only gets to counter and does not get an act of their own.

Well, casting counter spell costs you a 3rd level slot, that is not exactly free. Since you can react only once, the caster casting the first spell (ex fireball) will have the final word on the double counter sequence. But it will have cost him dearly to pass his spell.

You also need to consider that your reaction only recharge at the beginning of your own turn. 

Mage A turn:
Mage A cast a fireball, Mage B counterspell, Mage A counterspell the counterspell.

Orc turn:
Orc attack Mage A. Mage A can't use shield to protect itself, as its already used to counterspell.
Orc move away, Mage A can't opportunity attack as its already used, ...

Mage B turn:
Mage B cast lightning bolt, Mage A can't counterspell, reaction already used too...

You can imagine how using your reaction, being first or last in initiative order, is not that of an easy thinking !


I'm a warior, I... war...

1 month ago

I love the way you implemented the reaction system in Solasta.  I was pleasantly surprised when I encountered it in the demo for shielding an ally, casting feather fall when an ally started to fall, opportunity attacks, and more.  I also like that light and darkness are meaningful.  My only complaint was not being able to rotate the camera to see spiders on the wall that my characters could see and attack.  In other words, my characters had LOS (line of sight), but I did not and it was frustrating.

This system is looking so good that I hope you go on to make many adventures under the Solasta name.

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