Design Dice Based Combat Design


So the other thread was now two pages long with countless revisions which made it laborious to keep going. I decided to create a fresh new thread which will focus on my latest concept in order to facilitate conversation about it.

This new version is again a modified version from my previous version. I'll try to be concise to explain how it works:

1. Enemies roll 5 dice. A.I. picks the highest result. Current enemy result displayed by the dark arrow on the meter in the middle of the page.

2. Player does the same thing. Tries to beat enemy score. Can re-roll dice by spending one energy for each dice re-rolled. Re-rolled result is then definitive. Player result is indicated by the light arrow on the meter in the middle of the page. The end turn button is indicated by the scale in the lower right.

3. The meter is separated in sections which are separated by segments indicating 1 to 6.

4. A winner in the same segment causes one heart of damage. Ex. : pair of 5 beats a pair of 3. Damage increases by one heart for every section above. In the example in the picture, total damage would be 5 hearts to the spider BUT:

5. Damage is limited by strength meter (the bicep). Since the player has a strength of 3, 3 hearts would be loss instead of 5.

6. Loser is the first one to lose all hearts.

Things I'm aware of:
-Biceps icon clashes with the other two.
-Space requires better management.
-Need to find a purpose for enemy energy.

Things I'd like to implement:
-Critical hits
-Special status effect (paralysis, poison, bleeding, etc...)

Every comment about everything is fair game.



I'm afraid I don't understand the damage mechanic at all. So: why are there eight sections? What decides which section is used? How are segments in different sections compared? A pair of 5s beats a pair of 3s, but is it the sum that matters, or the fact that it is a pair and of higher value (and what about ties)? If player is required to look at the segments, and count them, and they are those small dots around the rectangle, they might tire of squinting at the screen pretty quick.
The mechanics are likely deceptively simple, but the UI makes it extremely hard to understand at a glance. From what I gather, it's essentially draw poker but with dice. If that's the case, there's a lot on screen that seems completely unnecessary.
  • The hand meter... thing doesn't need to be on-screen during battle at all. It can likely be relocated to a tutorial and/or a help menu visual. Given that there's only 7 different hands, it's fairly reasonable to expect players to remember them without having to display them constantly along with potentially confusing first-time onlookers through videos/streams.
  • There doesn't need to be a symbol for "holding" a die. Having two different icons makes it more busy visually, and with "hold" being the expected default action, only needing an icon for draw makes more sense.
  • If Strength is a constant, does it really need to be on-screen at all times? If strength doesn't change all the time during a battle, there's no need to have a meter for it. Player strength can be showed in a separate screen. Enemy strength doesn't need to be shown either, since it can typically be intuited from how the enemy is visually represented. Even if you have Strength buffs/debuffs, these can typically be shown with a single icon. I honestly can't think of a single RPG that displays attack strength so prominently.
  • Why is the "end turn" icon a pair of scales? It makes no sense. Especially seeing as you could repurpose the checkmark icon from the "hold" feature...
  • Having the energy amount spent show up on the end turn icon is a bit busy. This can likely be remedied by having the energy icons that will be spent blink or turn dark instead.
  • I guess what you're trying to do with your aesthetic is display all the information visually with no text, but having physical space limitations for how high HP/Energy/Strength can go would likely leave your game mechanically stagnant after only a short while. Where is the progression if health only goes to say, 10 or so and enemy strength raises only minimally throughout the entirety of the game?

When you take out all the visual clutter, it looks a bit simple, no? That's because it seems to me that that's exactly the issue going on here. There's a huge style-over-substance problem -- granted, I absolutely adore your style. Mechanically, Poker vs. an AI isn't deep at all. There's little you can do to make up for the complexity of playing poker vs. human opponents face-to-face in a single-player video game except by adding ancillary mechanics to add strategic depth, as you've already been doing with your Strength and Energy mechanics. Instead of reinventing the wheel, an easier way to do this would be to think "how do I apply [x] battle mechanic to Poker?" For example, take critical hits. You say you're wanting to add critical hits when you already have the mechanics for them. I can't help but think that four-/five-of-a-kind would happen so infrequently that the only way to truly balance them out and preserve that "OH MY GOD I JUST GOT AN AMAZING HAND" feeling would be to make them "instant win buttons". A flush would likely happen often enough to be equivalent to a typical RPG's critical hit rate.


Alright so yesterday I took a day off and thought about what you guys had written. It was a bit tough to read but I do appreciate the honesty as this is what is truly needed at the end of the day. I didn't agree with everything but good points were certainly made. I've reworked on three new designs. In all three you'll noticed I got rid of the enemy roll.

@NightFrost's reply made me realize it was too complex from the get go. So the new system is back to the basics this time. I didn't want the enemy roll end up being game changing for the player since he has no control on it. That was against my belief that player agency should always come first.

So the system is simple. You look at the scale and find out what the outcome of the round is. If you are happy with the result, you select "end turn". The outcome is then dealt and a new round begins with a new roll. If you're not, you select the dice to re-roll and select the re-roll icon.

The advantage of this system is that player have some incentive to risk rolls. In the previous version, just beating the enemy roll was enough and that would've been boring.

What you see is what you get if you will. I could still implement some special effects but I want to get the core system out of the way so that I can progress on the rest of the game. That is not to say I want to rush the system, just that I want to make some progress.

Please mention which layout you prefer and why. Of course, you may prefer some elements of various aspects which I can then merge into a new layout.

Thank you for the honest feedback.





Just to reiterate, the enemy doesn't roll in this new system? What does the enemy do with its energy then? What differences will there be between different enemy types? Just hp differences? (I ask that one because it seems to me an interesting design space to explore would be to have the rewards for each roll type differ depending on the enemy. For example while the spider may take 1 dmg and deal 1 dmg for a two-of-a-kind, maybe a skeleton would resolve that with healing itself for 1.)

I mostly prefer the first example for ui, though the arrow needs to be more clear and the box should probably be highlighted or something. Also the energy looks odd being so close to the reroll symbol so probably best to drop that down below the dice like in the second example.
I really liked the little ornate icons of death and the praying figure so I hope you can find a way to fit those back in.

Anyway, this looks really cool and it is definitely way more clear now than at the start. Though I will admit most of my confusion was from not understanding the fact that it's poker hands. As soon as nacho_chicken pointed that out it all clicked.
Yeah, I don't know that I'm really that enthused about the enemy not having a roll, or at least being able to use its energy to force a reroll. You may be giving the player too much control. Depending on how difficult you want the game to be (I know you stated in the previous thread that combat isn't the main focus) that may not be a problem, though.

As for the layouts, I like the separate character frames from Layout A but the colored dice chart from Layout B, but the contrast between the color of the player's hearts and the enemy's hearts could be more pronounced. You could possibly use a different symbol entirely for enemy health (skulls, perhaps?).


Thank you for both your replies. I cannot reiterate enough how much I treasure feedback. I think I’ll include people who provide feedback in the credits as a little thank you note. I’m going to work on the design some more today.


I honestly have no clue what to do with the enemy energy! I think I’ll just ditch it. If the enemy doesn’t roll anything I see if no way of implementing it.

You have surmised correctly. The chart will change entirely depending on the enemy. A fat mutant might be easier to hit but have a lot more health. Another enemy might a glass cannon, low health but high damage potential.

I also want to integrate the art back... but I have a tendency to sometimes clutter with it? I like stylistic frames, icons and useless pretty things.

I understand your skepticism. From my own experience, I always thought it frustrating when I lost purely due to RNG but on the other hand I just love dice as a mechanic. If the player has no agency on the enemy roll, then he’s a passive observer and I find that’s a shortcoming.

I’d like to integrate enemy energy, I’m just not sure how at this point in time. I thought that the enemy could force a re-roll by spending energy but I think that would just end up being frustrating.
I also want to integrate the art back... but I have a tendency to sometimes clutter with it? I like stylistic frames, icons and useless pretty things.
If I came across as meaning that in my previous post, I want to apologize. Please don't take it that way. Your sense for designing the visual aspects of a UI is astounding, and causing you to tone down your graphical design because of a misunderstanding would be a huge blunder on my part. Even in my brutally torn apart mockup, I still kept all your beautiful flourishes and borders! The only thing I meant by "style-over-substance" is that it seemed like there was more effort put into how a particular aspect of the UI looks (I.E. really good) than to whether or not it's actually necessary or even useful in the first place.


I assure you no apologies is necessary at all. Like I said, I don't think it's wrong of you to be honest about you like and dislike especially since I asked for it. The goal here is to get the best possible GUI!

So I re-worked the whole screen again. Frames are back, I've moved black hearts and white hearts to a separate line to distinguish them better. I've done a quite a few changes but it's mostly details and yet I'm sure you'll notice the difference. I think the energy meter works best where it needs to be frequently consulted, that is, under the roll icon.

I've made 13 icons (just noticed I forgot to put number 13) on top of the page. Of course they won't be there in game. I was wondering which one you guys like most in order to use it in the dice result bar.




I really like 1, 2, 7 and 11. They are all sufficently bold and clear, while also having very pretty design flourishes.


Once again I'd like opinions. I've added the critical hit mechanic. It's simple, every round a random number is generated (from one to six). If the player ends up using that number, the attack effectiveness is bumped by one notch. So if the critical number is '2', a the player ends up with a pair of '2', it would have the effect of 2 pairs instead.

The critical hit is supposed to represent a bull's eye but I wanted to make it creepy as well. They're numbered from 1 to 5. Which one do you prefer?


I like the critical hit mechanic, especially that the number changes each round rather than once at the start of a battle. As for the eye designs, I would go 2, then 3, although there really isn't a bad choice among the bunch.


Yup, in other thread.

Alright so this is what I think I'll go with in the end. There's still too much empty space but I don't know how to fill it up without cluttering things up.

You'll notice I've simply moved the hearts on top of the dice result for readability. I've also moved the dice results in the middle so that the player can have an eye out at the result before choosing to re-roll.

So now is the time or never to comment further before I send this to be coded in.


I think that you should check out the dice battle system in One Deck Dungeon, and perhaps borrow some ideas. In ODD the player isn't completely reliant on luck. It's a really good dice battle system.


Thanks for the input but at this point in the design, I don't want to go back and consult other games to review the foundations of the current battle system. If you had dropped by at the very beginning that could've been an issue but this is happening about two weeks too late.

At this point in time, I'd be willing to make minor modifications to the design and some more important ones for the layout but that's about it really. After more than 20 revisions, I need to finish this eventually and revisiting the basics would even more modifications which I'm not willing to do.


So I figured I could do without the cursor altogether simply by graying out what isn't currently selected and making the current selection subtly flash.

EDIT: I would also remove the bolt under each dice, it'd feel redundant. Instead, the energy meter would provide a forecast of the energy to be drained underneath the re-roll button.
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I'm working on animations lately.

I changed the checkmark to a padlock since it makes more sense as you don't re-roll the dice which you keep. I've also made a transition animation to go from one mode (change arrows) to the other (keep padlock).


I couldn't just have some static image change.

I've also added in little animations for the re-roll buttons and end-turn one:


And this is what I meant with the energy counter preview as opposed to having the lightning bolts under the dice.