Strain - A New Resource to Manage

Suggested this awhile back as part and parcel for the expanding mutation system ((I.E. activated mutations)) but I think it could do well as a stand alone feature, all things considered. I’ve included a modified snippet from the original idea that sums things up quite nicely:

A stacking status effect simply called [b]Strain.[/b] Certain actions cost strain, which on its own does nothing, but it [b]does[/b] trigger nastier and nastier debuffs per each 20 point increment. Allowing players to push themselves passed the limit in a life or death situation, but pay dearly in the aftermath. I'd [u][b]also[/b][/u] note that as certain fatiguing actions like dodging and melee combat add to total strain this would greatly diminish the level of ease with which players can splatter a stadium's worth of Zeds using nothing but a window and machete.

Here’s a mock up of what the Debuffs could look like. All of them would stack with each other and whatever other debuffs you may be suffering from pain or addiction

0-19 strain = No ill effects
20-39 strain = Heavy breathing. +1 total encumbrance across the board
40-59 strain = Lactic Build-up. A 30 percent movement speed debuff.
60-79 strain = Dizzy. A hefty penalty to all skills.
80-99 strain = Faltering. Pain for every turn spent in this state.
100+ strain = Breaking Point. Variable torso damage for every turn spent in this state. This can kill you.

So would this scale with strength?

The short answer would be no.

But that being said I can see strength being a mitigating factor in certain actions, like reducing the strain incurred for things that require brute force. ((Dragging, Smashing, climbing, swimming)) Just as dexterity would reduce the strain incremented from things like dodging.

As for almost all things tied into melee combat however, skill would be far more important than raw physical prowess for reducing the cost of actions. A trained fighter has fewer wasted movements and proper technique to rely on, that’s what makes an Akido take down look so effortless after all.

As for how “fast” someone recovers from strain, I think it should be tied into maximum health, as in a percentage of max health is how fast you remove strain per turn. Maybe 1 percent while active (Read as take any action) 10 percent while passing a turn. We don’t have a true endurance stat after all, so this way strength gets some functionality and any mutation or trait that increases health helps you shrug strain off faster.

I don’t think melee combat really needs any more mechanics to make it more difficult. Right now it’s a fairly simple affair on par with most other roguelikes, and I don’t think that should change. Plus, with the recent zombie buffs and kiting nerfs, and the general ranged weaponry rebalancing, I don’t think the game needs any significant mechanical change simply meant to make it harder.

I support this. I think it’s fucking absurd that you can just stand at the ready and wack-a-mole zeds as they crawl through a window one at a time nice and neat. Sure that’d work for awhile, but eventually you’re going to get tired.

That said I think the game needs an exhaustion system on other things as well. I find it funny that you can easily haul 200 pound of gear around with a few backpacks for as long as you damn well please in hundred degree weather.

I like it as well, of course balance must always be considered when adding new features but if done properly this will add a new tactical depth to the game.

As far as mutations go, I’m quite content with charging hunger/thirst/fatigue*/focus in whatever combination seems appropriate.

*Yeah, some mutations make you get tired faster. Active ones could certainly do so.

(Besides, I tried to add new statuses to hunger/thirst when I made Hibernation. Didn’t work, no reason I could tell. Got no desire to mess with the status display further.)

The more I think about this, the more this seems like a bad idea. There’d be no way to realistically justify ranged combat being more strenuous than melee combat, so this would either be implemented unrealistic ally, or would serve to tip the balance even more in favour of ranged combat, neither option of which seems very appealing. The death of this game will be clumsily shoehorned mechanics for the sake of extra complexity.

Currently, melee doesn’t really consume resources. You build/find yourself some suitable protection, position yourself between difficult terrain and the Z’s then proceed to karate chop/crowbar/machete anything without a pulse into mush. Higher skill, mutations and CBM’s turn even Zombie Hulks into minor annoyances at best.

A system like this would change up the familiar formula in several ways.
*The longer you engage Z’s in close quarters the harder it will be to run away, encouraging hit and run and house to house tactics instead of the current game of ‘whack-a-mole’ that lets fresh survivor clear out whole towns.
*It would create resource management in the sense that you’d be keeping an eye on your fatigue. Ideally this could manifest in several forms, from a survivor needing to retreat, regroup and get a second wind to the use of comestibles like the adrenaline injector to temporarily beat back a redlining level of strain.
*Most importantly this would make even a dedicated martial artist character place value on weapons their play style currently trivializes. ((Grenades, Traps, A reliable sidearm)) These things finding much needed utility in either softening up crowds, slowing pursuing enemies or when all else fails a non-strain incrementing method of attack.

I don’t really think melee combat needs a new resource to limit it. Since most enemies are melee only, ranged combat can avoid getting into direct range and only needs to manage ammo, and enemy placement on occasion. A melee player has to worry about placement, armor and health a lot more, in addition to the regular mechanics like satiation and tiredness. If people here are experienced enough in those mechanics to trivialize them, then they should review and rebalance them first - and indeed, that’s been the recent trend. To new players who don’t know how to game those underlying mechanics yet, all this adds is yet another layer of tedium to the early game to be ignored in the late-game. Grafting another mechanic on doesn’t help anyone.

You have a point Inadequate but I don’t see how this mechanic can be trivialized/ignored by experienced players, unlike other problems like… finding clean water for example. Strain will be there even when the player has acquire superior melee weapon and CBMs and stuff; he may be able to endure it longer yes but eventually the fatigue will kick in and a retreat is needed. Unlike now which with sufficient skill, weapon and terrain even a zombie hulk can be trivial.

I think a fatigue system is a really good idea. Right now melee against masses of opponents is easy and completely risk free once you hit a certain point within the game, as you are pretty much invulnerable with all the dodging and armor. With fatigue being surrounded would become actually threatening.

It is true that ranged combat is even more overpowered then melee combat, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix one at least. For the ranged combat there are already separate threads out there (like

Once you have a better selection of weapons, then you can just choose to use the less strain inducing ones, which largely boils down to ranged weaponry. This causes people to sideline melee weaponry for ranged in order not to have to deal with this mechanic, which creates a vicious cycle where people complain about ranged weaponry being overpowered and nerfing it. From this thread and the myriad proposals to nerf ranged weaponry, we’re already in the middle of that cycle. Eventually the game will end up practically unplayable due to the myriad mechanics grafted willy-nilly onto basic combat.

If you think kiting and armor are overpowered, there’s been proposals to nerf them. If you think being surrounded should be more of an issue, there’s been proposals to have them impact player and weapon speed. Regardless of how I feel about those issues, at least they worked with the mechanics already present.

Who say ranged weapon can’t be tiring?
-Melee: infinite ammo but tiring.
-Bow & xbow: ammo can be made in large quantities but require certain skill to be effective and moderate tiring.
-Gun: Powerful and does not tire the character but ammo are limited.
Ranged weapons have limitation in ammo, you can’t have infinite ammo. Both kind of attack are op at certain point in the game.

I’m honestly think you are just exaggerating things. I can’t see this trend you are talking about here. This game is still in a very active development so things tend to change very fast and broken mechanics most of the time are unavoidable. Right now both melee and ranged need to be rebalanced.

See below

I don’t really think they need any significant rebalancing mechanics-wise. The main issue on the ranged thread was the ease and variety of obtaining ranged weaponry, which was corrected without touching on the basic mechanics of ranged combat. If common enemies are weak at high levels, someone’s already at work on high level enemies. All of those methods of rebalancing work within the established mechanics and make the game more interesting. The only other roguelike with a system like this is Unreal World, and I’ve never felt that the stamina system there significantly added to the game either. All it does is slow you down and cause you to hit the ‘pass turn’ button every few actions you do. It would be another mechanic that hits the early game hardest, and serves mostly to bog down the gameplay pace at high levels.

Done right fatigue or strain or whatever should only ever be an issue if you do very exhausting things, like trying to take out a whole town with nothing more then a baseball bat. Starting characters are generally not trying to do anything so recklessly suicidal, they are more likely to simply run away. Therefore Fatigue would only really affect mid-game to late-game characters as they set out to clear entire towns, take on a beehive with nothing more then a melee weapon and other crazy goals. But fulfilling those goals should really involve more then grabbing your melee weapon of choice and continue bashing until nothing moves.

So what does this mechanic add for mid game characters? Either you just use a ranged weapon and avoid all that hassle, or you hit a few bees, retreat back to a nearby vehicle, chill a bit, then continue hitting. The claim is that this mechanic will help prevent you from hitting zombies non-stop while kiting them, but if you can accomplish that then this mechanic doesn’t do anything besides add the intermediate step ‘and walk back a few steps, then press the ‘next turn’ button over and over’. It’s artificial difficulty that doesn’t make the game any more interesting.

Actually I don’t think you should recover that quickly. It should take hours not a couple of turns, like you suggested. You could return after that, but by then the zombies you’ve killed might be walking again.

Like I said: Ranged combat is quite overpowered as well. You really have to see this suggestion in the context of balanced range combat. As infectedmochi pointed out: ranged ammunition is limited. There is also a PR on git to make ranged combat require ‘aim’, which means you cannot simply backtrack a few steps and start shooting again (well, at least not very well).

But that’s ranged combat and a bit off topic. I think you agree that melee combat needs balancing. We only argue about the implementation here.

Precisely my point. Ranged combat is currently being rebalanced with respect to the current games and current mechanics. No point adding another combat mechanic on top of the mix in such unsteady times. Give it time to play out and settle before rebalancing everything for the sake of your pet mechanic.

And if it takes hours, then you need a safe base to rest, like a nearby vehicle or house. So that’s another luxury that a mid-to-late game character can afford, but an early game one can’t. That’s another way it hurts the early game more than anything else.

Well, I am not arguing that it should be implemented right away. My personal hope is that the release after the next will be 0.B standing for 'B’alance.

I agree that an early game character would be indeed at a disadvantage, but as I was arguing in my last post: He shouldn’t do that in the first place. If an early game character tries fighting a horde of monsters with a melee weapon instead of running away, then he gets what he had coming in the first place. Really, trying to clear a town with a melee weapon on your first day in game is a stupid idea and it is only fair that such a character would have a huge problem.