Sunday 28 December 2014

MMO Design: Witcher Potion System

[Part of my MMO Design Folder.]

In my previous review of the Witcher 2, I mentioned that I quite like the potion system there and thought I would explore the notion of putting a similar thing in an MMO. Currently the most common types of consumables I've run into in MMOs are the ones that either give you a buff for -x- amount of time or the type that you drink for immediate bonus like restoring HP or Mana. Sometimes you can drink like there is no tomorrow, as fast as you can press a key. Sometimes there's an arbitrary cool down.

Personally, I'm the type that keeps over 100 health potions in my pack because there's simply no penalty in doing so, and no penalty for drinking them in quick succession when I need to in most games. Mabinogi does start giving you stat deductions in that event but it takes a LOT of drinking to get there.

The system in the Witcher is pretty simple. You have a "poison" bar that fills up based on the type of consumable you are taking - often with three being the maximum before suffering an overdose. All of them have an effect duration, even the "health" potion which just temporarily improves your regeneration rate. Most importantly, almost all of them have negative side effects. A potion of fire resistance might make you more susceptible to cold for example.

This would force people to think about what they are doing instead of chugging down every type of bonus they can. It also makes encounters more manageable from a design perspective because people are more limited with what they can field on the table, unlike trying to make a challenging fight for both non-dosed players and those who have access to every consumable in game.

On the down side this might reduce the "gold sink" nature of potions somewhat, if people when faced with uncertainty of what to get simply buy nothing. What do you think?


  1. I only played a bit of Witcher 1 (I really need to get back to it some day!) and the alchemy system there is pretty much the same (as far as side-effects of potions go anyway).

    It was something I thought was pretty interesting. I just like systems with trade-offs that you need to decide if they are worth it. Using it in a MMO could be pretty interesting too. Like in your example, with a fire potion. If the person/group is just fighting fire-based enemies wouldn't be a problem. But what if they fight a wizard that can cast both fire or ice spells? Do they risk it, hoping the wizard will use mostly fire spells? Or do they play it safe and don't use the potion, just taking on whatever spells come their way?

    Or with healing potions. They could bring a ton with them and keep jugging it hoping they won't have to use it so much they get poisoned or they could just bring their healer friend and avoid any side-effects.

    1. Hopefully one day someone will incorporate it so we can find out! :D