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Single Ammo/energy In Action Game?
I�m developing a new action game
One of the basic concepts is that player has some special abilities besides the usual wapons. These abilities are akin to magic - things like shield, slow-mo etc.

Now the idea is to have the same resource (energy) powering all the weapons and special abilities. This would create tactic choices where you need to decide what gun or combination of gun and ability to use. Say, you could fire a big gun, wasting all energy on it or you could turn on slow mo (which would drain some energy too) and use remaining energy to finish monsters with the basic gun.
The energy would be rechargeable from sources placed on the game levels and also would regenerate a little until amount you need to fire the basic gun (to avoid situation where player wastes all the energy on shooting lonely grunts with powerful weapons)

Hope to hear your criticism of this idea from gamedesign, levedesignl or player point of view.
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CZG and me on the same page. The best thing to happen to me today! 
Alice did this too and it wasn't terribly good. Your only disadvantage to using bigger weapons all the time is that they hose a lot more of your ammo pool at a time, but in order to make that a valid drawback the player can't have very much of the stuff at a time. The end result is that the player can't make much use of ANY of his weapons after using a bigger one or another ability, making their use almost a punishment. In games like Alice, the powerful weapons don't feel so nice because their ammo doesn't feel like expensive valuables. Instead of whipping them out to make use of one of my five precious jabberwock-rockets when I got into a bind, I would only use it when I knew I wouldn't have to do any more fighting after (ie when I could oneshot someone) because afterwards I'd be so out of 'mana' I'd have to finish everyone off with that frigging knife.

I can't see any reason games use this system other than the designers are too lazy to balance ammo types. It gives the player resources to manage and liberates him to fight the way he wants to. And, it gives the designer a means of both rewarding the player with an extra source of goods, and controlling whether or not a player can make more extensive use of a certain weapon than the designer feels a particular area or level can support. 
There's A Flip Side To That, Though 
Which is the chore of hunting down ammo here there and everywhere for every single weapon, particular if the ammo capacity of the player is low (*cough*HL2*cough). I often find going to the trouble of finding and busting open some crates gets a touch tiresome when the reward is yet another brace of pistol ammo and maybe a medkit I don't need.

Quake doesn't seem to have that problem, but then there are only four types of ammo. Doom also shared ammunition between weapons - maybe that's a better solution than abstracting everything to one ammunition type. 
Golden Axe Used It To Good Effect Though 
So maybe you just need to rebalance the melee weapons and reconsider how "weapons" are conceived just like you're reconceived of how ammo is distributed. It also wouldn't hurt to consider having ammo used in a slightly different way (i.e. not just using x amount for weapon y, but maybe have the features of a weapon vary based on the amount of ammo you have). 
Another Take 
What about having ammo only used when damage is done to an enemy? (Missed shots might not cost anything.)

Of course, the storyline would have to make this believable, but what would it do to game dynamics?

Also, how about weapons that replenish the player's energy by leeching them from other sources, like dead bodies or enemy laser beams? 
It Really Puts My Mind 
to UFO, which was turn-based and tactical, not an action game. Anyway, the people you controlled had time elements or action points or whatever they were, and it always included some real choices (gameplay is interesting if there are choices!) in where to use them each turn.
Should I blast away a series of shots or should I aim really well for one shot or should I try to run away or what? In an action game, this relates at least to guns with reload or warm-up times of course. Like the BFG. Tradeoffs and choices and multiple ways of achieving things make stuff interesting, otherwise it's just "find the one optimal way and repeate ad nauseum". Then it's also reminiscent of the ammo conservation. If all ammo is the same, maybe it's not so good. Dunno. Maybe it changes the problem from one domain to the next. Ie the ammo problem becomes a reload problem.

Lun's points were good.

Not an easy art, it is. 
the chore of hunting down ammo here there and everywhere for every single weapon

Again, I blame level design for this, not ammo system design. If the player is irritated looking for ammo, it doesn't mean you should change your game to not include any.

To make the power-use choice work, the game would have to be balanced much differently than a Quake-type FPS. There couldn't really be any notion of "better" or "worse" to any one action or attack - the advantages would all have to be situational. It seems to me like a Deus Ex type game would be much better at this than a Quake (ironic that IW seemed to have not done it so well :P). 
CZG: any chance you made a mod for quake with such thing?

Thanks for mentioning Deus2 has single ammo type - will check it. Alice too.
Golden Axe was mostly melee, so its different.

inertia: wouldn�t "having ammo only used when damage is done" kill the core mechanic of action - aiming, just like full auto aim

Bamb: In turn based games 'action points' are different - cause they are fully restored at each turn. would be similar, if you had ammo resource regenerated, say each half a minute, instantly and to 100%. I wont do full regen cause it will encourage players to sit and wait, killing the pace and making game boring. Only like in Prey (basic gun regenerates ammo enough to make just 1 sniper shot or a short burst)

Lun: I have a feeling this (single ammo\energy type) could turn out to be a bad idea, but cant nail it.
One reason is its actually hard to balance. Prolly you are right about the situational weapon advantages.

Speaking of HL2 - its ammo system is kinda ... weird (to avoid calling it bad)
You have ridiculous limit for heavy weapons ammo. And the designers just force you to use small guns most of the time and use deadly weapons in special situations (most noticeable - RPG and grenades) . Not very fond of this 'down your throat' approach.

more tomorrow.... 
Well Yeah, But That's Not The Suggestion 
We're not talking about removing resources and resource management, but making them simpler and more abstract - something like an old school RTS game like Dune 2 or Warcraft, where you only had a limited set of resource types to search and compete for. That pushed the focus towards tactical considerations without making resources any less important. It's not impossible that a similar system would work for a FPS.

One approach might be to "key" ammo types so that they are generic but still distinct. For instance, a magic that can be used on any weapon but only for melee attacks (and another that could only be used effectively for long range attacks).

System Shock 2 did something a bit like that with some ammunition, with the effectiveness of a given round typed to the kind of enemy you were facing. Pick the right ammo, do more damage. A bit like the Shambler/reduced rocket damage thing, except more universal. 
Metl Why Cant I Login With Opera 9 Anymore 
i think ammo sharing between weapons is a good thing - "do i throw the apple to block the path, or save the rocket for infight?" -> choices.

i dont know if it's a good thing to have ALL weapons share ammo, though. I tend to like systems where there's different kalibers of ammo...

I hated how prey handled the ammo -
a) because it didnt have explicit numbers, this made it VERY difficult to know beforehand how much ammo you would have left after the shot (-> less use of the powerful weapons [i think this is the problem lun has with alice {alice had no numbers, too?}])
b) because the default rifle uses the same ammo display for both shots (why does one single shot take more ammo than lots of em?!?)
c) you couldn't hold appropriate amounts of ammo, ie. the designers dictated what weapons to use by placing ammo
d) something else i can't think of atm

also, what i find pretty important - when i fight enemies that use weapons i could use or already use, they should drop the weapon.

also, i'd like to see more games with realistic ammo in the way that if you reload, you replace your 30shot magazine and waste all bullets still in the magazine. This would reward accuracy? (good thing?)

now that i think of it, i hated all ammo systems where there were no numbers (or rather, UNITS - there don't need to be actual numbers) involved (halo, alice, prey, ...)

I love boomerang weapons, ie. you have 2-5 projetiles, if you shoot em they take a while to return - you can't fight hordes well with em, so you have to be careful. Might even work with arrow kind of projectiles, but it might be too much work to pickup each arrow. 
Also [it Works Now Yay] 
inertia's idea with ammo only being used if something would get hit - that would produce ENDLESS spam ;)

i think i like the idea of different types of ammo modifying the weapons. 
Boomerang Weapons 
Actually 'The Discs of Daedalus' from Daikatana were pretty kickass.

Other thought; Only way to get ammo is by absorbing it from enemies by going into some block/shield mode when they attack you. 
ammo types so that they are generic but still distinct - that would be hard to switch in the fast paced shooter 
Interesting Topic 
ammo is important but much more are the weapons. Quake is pretty spiked near the top of the weapon spectrum, the rocket launcher and thunderbolt being insanely more powerful than anything else. As Romero said in his interview (Qexpo) the balence for doom is much better, the shotguns being much preferable to anything else EG. when fighting pinky demons.

In Quake you'd obviously prefer to always use the thunderbolt, unless you're underwater. They counteracted this by making its ammo extremely limited and easy to waste. Which always felt slightly . . . cheap.

Whenever building a weapon set I always try and make no particular weapon stand out in terms of raw power, instead each to be perfectly suited to a particular situation, the best of both worlds being multifunctionality; the painkiller weapon and assault rifle + grenade launcher from hl1 springing to mind.

This is down to personal preference and many will be thinking - but you can't fight close quarters with a rocket launcher! or - the thunderbolt is short ranged! But with other weapon types it's not so clear - shotgun vs supershotgun - the first becomes useless when you have the second. The nailguns are better since its too easy to waste ammo with the SNG, especially when fighting a horde of weak enemies.

When talking specifically about ammo types for magical type attacks my idea would be to follow what a few have mentioned above but with a slight skew. Lun mentioned SysShock2, where damage was dependant on enemy/ammo type, and the system worked great except for having to change ammo whenever a different enemy type showed up. recharging ammo is good but I can't remember a time when it really shined, since it generally ruins the pace of a game.

here's my idea -

all weapons / abilities can use all ammo types.
There's 3-5 ammo types available, an obious choice would be elements (earth, air, fire + water) but could be whatever you want. Most enemies have a weakness verses a particular ammo type, though none are resistant to a particular one. There would be around 3-5 weapons/attacks, and each would perform differently depending on what you fired from it. Lets say you've got weapon X, with air (to use the above example) it does no damage but hits multiple enemies, pushing them back, with earth it does a slow attack that hits everything in front of you, doing low damage and slowing them down (ie. earthquake), with fire it shoots a bolt of flame, like any standard weapon, hitting one enemy, lastly, with water it does nothing but regenerate lost health. When playing there would be no ammo pickups, though a 'regenerator' could be included which would power up an ammo type but be static (maybe in a hub-type area). Instead ammo would be gained in two ways - slow regeneration, starting a few seconds after it was last used, and the inverse effect - eg. using a fire ammo attack would increase the amount of water ammo you had by the same amount (or else 75%). You could also have enemies instantly recharge the player's ammo's when defeated (vampirism) but this might force the player to always play the same when fighting certain enemies.

The dangers of this would be of overcomplicating the weapons system and making it too complex to be rewarding, though limiting the amount of ammo and weapon types would help this alot.

Come to think of it Prince of persia 1 did implement something similiar to this with a single ammo type (sand) and that worked beautifully because it was such a strong and uncomplicated design concept.

Anyhoo - there's my rambling post. 
Very Useful Post 
not rambling at all.

One note: I still use single shot in Quake in certain circumstances. It seems like it is easier to force the monster to go into a pain cycle instead of firing back when you are taking single shots at him. 
Some Points 
Slight correction: quake / qw shotgun is better at medium and long range than supershotgun, it both doesn't waste shots and is more accurate. Surprisingly, the worst weapon in qw is the nailgun. It's only decent if your enemy is in some very narrow place and can be pinned down, which ~never happens.

Weapon design should be such that no two weapons do the same thing, and also rather that the differences are clear.

I don't find the "different weapons have different effects against different enemies" idea too nice, it just mostly feels artificial and complicates the game a lot and makes you have to remember something like 50 relations (7 weapons and 7 enemies.) I don't like it that much in quake that wizards need nails to kill and shamblers can stand explosions. In the latter case it makes sense in the way that the slow and big shamblers would be easy to spam to death from behind a corner with grenades or from long range with rockets otherwise.

Weapon tuning for different enemies only makes sense in a few special situations, and it would make sense if it was somehow explicitly clear. 
The Single Shot Shuffle 
I also confess to using the single shotgun, for shooting at long range usually, but there's one trick in particular that it's good for: killing knights. One single shotgun and one double shot does just enough damage to kill a knight(You can miss one pellet out of the whole thing). The recoil from the single is shorter, so you fire that first. This is usually enough to send it into a pain animation, and you can fire it from a greater distance and still hit full on. Then you follow up by running to point blank, while the knight is still stunned, and finish it off with a double. Time to kill: 0.6 seconds. Enforcers and Scrags also have 75 health, but it's much harder to do the same trick to the latter, as they fly. 
I Like Shooting Things 
ijed - I noticed you left out the element Heart in that list. I am saddened by this.

In my interview with Romero, the point was that Quake's weaponry is good for a singleplayer environment as the weapons upgrade in a form, particularly for direct conflict. The shotgun goes from 24 max damage to 56 max damage with the supershotgun, the nailgun from 9 to 18 with sng. The grenade launcher becomes more useful to the 1996 keyboarder or less tactical player. It is a linear progression on a general sense. This makes for much different gameplay in deathmatch, as I honestly dont even bother with the normal nailgun... the shotgun is more accurate for me and packs enough of a difference in punch that I use it more often.

For me a wonderful example of balancing weapons and ammo would be Hard difficulty Beyond Belief. You can acquire the ssg in a secret at the end of bbelief1, or at the beginning of bbelief2 (so early on I question his placement of the secret right by the exit...). I believe, but I may be wrong, in bbelief2 you can find a nailgun which functions more as just an alternative ammo source. In bbelief3 he gives the lightning gun which is a bit of a surprise, and at first is a huge gift as you have cells saved up from the enforcers. However once that ammo is expended, Worch delays giving you more powerful weapons to kill enemies and instead will just give you a single cell pack, sometimes a large one in a secret area. In bbelief4 he sticks to the norm of giving you a grenade launcher for the zombies, and in bbelief5 he allows passage to a secret level which gives you the SNG, which otherwise couldnt be found until bbelief7. bbelief6 brings the rocket launcher. I just really really like this method of pacing the weapons, without feeling like its Just Quake Guns.

As for types of ammunition in one weapon... Undying does things interestingly. The pistol can fire normal bullets or silver bullets, silver works well against demons, but does the same damage to humans. The shotgun has flame rounds which work specifically well against the malicious foliage - and the most powerful weapon in the game is the scythe of the celts, a melee weapon that only takes ammo (mana, which regenerates) if you use its life-stealing altfire. However even then, it can fall back on its magic system, low on ammo... you can pelt at a medium range with ectoplasm, or later on use lightning or explosive skulls. Undying is an interesting example of ammo types (especially with the magic thrown in).

Now THAT was a rambling post. 
SG is useful, but shouldn't be - I generally use it for either scrags or ogres - scrags when you don't have any nails left and ogres (8 shots) when they're up high raining grenades on you but you've found the blind spot in thier aim pattern and already killed anything else nearby. As a basic weapon it does the job, but could have had more obvious differences to its big brother.

bambuz - I should have been clearer, since speeds suggested a magical type game I just assumed the four ancient elements (that's why the heart went) as an example - ie. you can kill an 'ice ogre' with anything you like and it will die at more or less the same rate, but hit it with a fire attack and it'll be vapourised instantly. 
We're NOT Discussing Quake Weapons Here! 
hm, what ijed posted sounds nice at first look, but in essence i think it's basically ammo*weapons different weapons without any ammo. 
As I said, this system is too complex to manage for a player. And even 4 guns x 4 ammo types = 16 variations, which is overkill 
Fair Enough 
just an idea - and like I say, it was managed in POP (even though you don't have guns) very nicely with only 1 ammo type.

I spose we're discussing 'actions which the player can perform' under which heading comes 'killing stuff'. 
[i think this is the problem lun has with alice {alice had no numbers, too?}]

yes that's exactly what i said

Hexen I think had blue mana and green mana, and weapons used more of one or the other. One was a more rare pickup than the other. That kept stuff pretty simple but still retained all the advantages of ammo types. 
At the same time, though, there were only 4 weapons that you would have while playing, and 1 of those was made to feel like it was only designed for emergencies (like the Doom or Q2 BFG)

The green weapon used more per usage than the blue weapon, and the super weapon used an equal amount of both.

The blue weapon isn't introduced until after the first map of the first hub, the green weapon isn't introuduced until the second hub, and the super weapon is in 3 parts (2 parts for Hexen 2) so you don't really get to use it until the end of the second hub (at the earliest) so there is still a progression there. 
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