Auto-dash is bad game design

Frogboy

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Before you rip into me, hear me out. I have watched a plethora of RPG Maker first impression videos and such on YouTube and have noticed a few things.

1. The first thing everyone does before they play a RPG Maker game is turn Auto-dash on.

2. Auto-dash is clumsy as it races you around at 2x-3x the normal speed.

3. Because of its clumsy nature, players end up taking a lot of extra steps that they normally wouldn't have which forces the game designer to significantly raise the encounter rate or risk annoying players with too many random encounters.

4. Also, the game designer likely needs to double the size of their maps as well to account for the increased speed which adds more development time.

5. Large maps can also make it harder for players to figure out where they're going or have been and can get them lost or discombobulated easier.

6. If the game creator doesn't design around the assumption that Auto-dash will be turned on immediately, their game usually gets criticized for things that aren't really their fault like the aforementioned "too high encounter rate", players accidentally running into lava or anything else that requires more precision control.

Yes, there are always exceptions. Safe zones like towns and other areas that don't have random encounters are fine to allow auto-dashing. Also, any game that has enemies on the map as opposed to random encounters may rely on dashing as a core mechanic to avoid fighting if the player wants. That's fine as well. And if your game is designed around rocketing through huge spaces then cool. These should all be conscious decisions made by the designer and not things that you have to do to work around this option.

I believe that allowing auto-dash should be the exception, not the rule. Your game should have a clear reason why it's allowed instead of the opposite which is the current default.

This post was inspired by something Kes said to me.

... However, whilst I agree with you that many maps are far too big, disabling auto-dash is a great way to alienate a lot of your players.
I'm not sure why disabling auto-dash would alienate a lot of your players but this statement was said with authority, as if doing it is a big design faux pas and people will hate you for it. I'd like to break this line of thought or at least make the case against it.

I think that people should be more wary of how this seemingly innocuous feature is affecting your game's design and others impression of it. It could be doing more harm then good. A well designed and fun game will, or at least should, still be well-received just for the simple fact that it's good.


Okay, now you can rip me a new one. :)
 

Wavelength

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Couldn't disagree with you more. Once players have figured out a plan of attack, they usually want to get from Point A to Point B quickly.

If they want to walk instead of run (which could be useful in an example like your #3 where players are near death and need to conserve steps in a dungeon, or if they just want to stop and smell the roses which is unlikely in an RPG Maker game), there's usually a key they can hold or toggle in order to do so.

There's absolutely no need to double the size of maps to account for double movement speed; that's an extremely flawed method of thought. There's nothing wrong with allowing the player to move through your map and waste only half the time doing so.

It's annoying to have to hold a button down ALL THE TIME because I want to move around fast. So I think that not having Auto-Dash should be more of the exception than the rule.
 

Rhaeami

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It's not that you don't raise good points, it's just that many players value efficiency of movement more than the things you've mentioned. I speak mostly to the way it affects perception of encounter rates and accuracy of movement, but I'm just going to flat out disagree with anything related to map size. If you want to slow down your player's progression through the game, don't make maps bigger; make them denser. If running faster makes your game significantly shorter, then that means that a huge chunk of your content is just walking from point A to point B, and that's simply not fun unless it's a visually stunning piece of art. :kaoswt2:

On a side note, I think that both ways of doing it have their downsides, so maybe the truly good design would be something new. Perhaps manually altering player speed in precision areas, or using a customized encounter system that isn't as affected by running speed.
 

HexMozart88

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Yeah. Honestly, I'm a seriously impatient person, and I need to go fast. If I'm just strolling along the whole time, and having to press a button to move fast, I'm going to get really bored. It shouldn't take me five minutes to cross a map. If it does, I won't play the game. And the thing about the map size is admittedly kind of stupid, and there's no support for it whatsoever. I haven't seen anyone do that except beginners, and that's not because of auto-dash. That's because they don't know any better. Seriously, your characters should be fast on their own not because they're pressing a button for the duration of the game. And for gosh sake, do not disable dashing or I will seriously never play your game.
 

Kyuukon

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I agree. First thing I do when creating a new project is remove "Auto-dash" feature from the options menu and make dash only increase speed by +0.5.
 

Galv

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I don't understand how automatically dashing is any different to the player holding down a sprint button apart from the player's finger hurting a little more in longer play sessions in the latter.
 

Frogboy

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One could argue that you should have things to do, chests to get, puzzles to solve etc. while traversing most maps. Why make the player run through maps just to run through maps? A map that takes the right amount of time to get across with sprint always on is by definition, too big. It should probably take that long without and dash should only be used in rare situations when you've already been there and for whatever reason need to go through there again (which is one of those things that most designers will tell you should be avoided as much as possible).

If you have to sprint so much that you want it on all the time, I'm arguing that this is bad design. It kind of defeats the purpose of having dash as that just becomes normal speed (while degrading the player's controls).
 
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bgillisp

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I think the problem is that normal speed for RPGMaker is honestly, a little too slow. That at least is why I like to have auto dash on myself.
 

HexMozart88

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Alright. I can somewhat see where you're coming from, but let me explain some things here. First of all, wanting to run all or most of the time does not mean it's bad game design. It just means, as @bgillisp said, the default speed is painfully slow and it needs to be faster in order to feel like there is actually a bit of devotion to the quest at hand. I mean, if the world is about to end, would you seriously be strolling along without a care in the world? I'm not saying you should be making them zip around at 10x speed, but at least make them a little faster. And to answer to @Galv's point, it's not that your finger is going to hurt when pressing down a button, but because for a lot of players they want to be able to automatically go fast, it's kind of the equivalent of having to press shift to make Sonic run, which is really annoying. That's probably why SEGA made him run on his own in Sonic and the Secret Rings.
The speed of the player can sometimes drastically change the atmosphere of the whole game. If you're moving slower, the game takes on a calmer atmosphere because there's no sense of importance to what you're doing. If you're moving faster, it means you have a quest, and you need things to get done fast.
So, I'm not saying you need to have it on all the time, but I think when your game needs to move fast, change the speed of the player.
An alternative to this would be making the character move faster the more they run, or how hard the button is pressed. But, that'd be pretty hard to code, I'd imagine.
And to your last point about making players run through maps just to run through maps, if that's what you think auto-dash is for, you need to start playing/designing better games. If that's an issue, it means you have absolutely nothing of interest on any of your maps, so the player would just run by everything. So, in order to stop that from happening, just make your maps actually interesting so that the player can just run to points of interest, and then they can take in the map.
 

Frogboy

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I was arguing that you shouldn't have maps that are just there to run through. That was kind of the point.

Perhaps a plug-in that allows you to change the normal speed (because the default is too slow for your game) is the better solution as opposed to having your players turn on auto-dash.
 

Kes

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Obviously, from the quote you chose, I'm going to disagree.

First off, I always give the player the choice in 'Options' to dash or walk, so personal preferences are taken account of. It also means that if, for some reason, the player finds a particular area more tricky to navigate because of the nature of the map (ice/slippery tiles would be one example) they can change what mode they are using.

Auto-dash is clumsy as it races you around at 2x-3x the normal speed
There is nothing clumsy about it. I allow the player both mouse and keyboard (my current project is in Ace, so mouse is not default). With mouse, just click on the destination and the pathfinding side of the script kicks in to take you exactly there with no detours. Those players who use keyboard (as I do for preference) can get around with just as much exactitude. As far as I have seen the default mouse in MV also has pathfinding, so this is not a problem there. Should anyone find they are having problems, they have the option to walk. Why stop those who want to dash just because some hypothetical player might have an issue?

Because of its clumsy nature, players end up taking a lot of extra steps that they normally wouldn't have which forces the game designer to significantly raise the encounter rate or risk annoying players with too many random encounters.
With the mouse you don't take extra steps, and with even a little familiarity with the keyboard, you don't. Because I don't think your first point is correct, obviously I'm not going to agree with anything which takes it as foundational. You have assumed random encounters - a lot of games have map event encounters, not random encounters, so for a lot of games, that point is irrelevant. Even in random encounters, it does not force the developer to change the encounter rate. If the dev had to guess that a player would take an extra 5 steps to walk across the map, how would s/he account for those players who explore every nook and cranny and offset their step count with those who do much less exploring? I don't think anyone counts up potential steps like that.


Also, the game designer likely needs to double the size of their maps as well to account for the increased speed which adds more development time.
Absolutely not. I have never heard of a dev who gave this as a reason for the size of the map. I would like to see some evidence to support this point.

Large maps can also make it harder for players to figure out where they're going or have been and can get them lost or discombobulated easier.
A well-designed map will give the player an adequate indication. That is true whether it is a large map or a small map. If your map depends on the player being able to see it all at once to figure out where to go, then there is something else wrong with it, not with the speed of movement.

Because I try and give the player as much of an opportunity to play the game they way they find most fun, it would never occur to me to remove the choice of auto dash. There are some things in my games which I control quite tightly, but that is not one of them.
 

HexMozart88

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As @Kes said, I don't quite understand the point of not even giving the player the choice. I think they should be able to choose whether or not they want to move quickly. After all, it could potentially be a bit more immersive that way. If you can't control the speed at which you walk, you are less likely to feel involved because humans have that option to control their speed by default.
I was arguing that you shouldn't have maps that are just there to run through. That was kind of the point.
Exactly. I think it is you who is missing my point. You absolutely should not have maps there just to run through them, so why would you put in uninteresting maps through which the player wants to run? The point of auto-dash isn't to make the player skip through the whole game, or else that feature never would've been invented. The point is to make them move a bit faster so they don't get frustrated having to take forever to cross the map. If they want to move fast, I don't see why you shouldn't let them.
 

Milennin

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This is why the forum needs a dislike button.
Auto-dash is a heaven's gift. I'm so glad it's finally a default feature in RPG Maker. I still remember all those RPG Maker VX Ace games that made me perma-hold down Shift just to get around faster (and then skip through dialogue when talking to something)... it was such a pain.
If your MV game doesn't feature an auto-dash without very (very very very) good reason, I'm not even going to consider playing it.
 

Rhaeami

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In many 3D console RPGs, auto dash is effectively enabled because it uses the method of "slightly tilt joystick to walk, tilt all the way to run". In these cases, tilting all the way is easier, and it's assigned to run. For a keyboard RPG Maker game, pressing an arrow key is easier than pressing an arrow key *and* the dash button, so using auto dash to assign that to "run" would be emulating console joystick design.

If that's the case, then any design complaints or praises would, you'd think, carry over between the two. Just a thought. :kaoswt:
 

HexMozart88

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@Milennin Yeah. That's one of the only things I like in MV over Ace. Now I want to look for a script to do that.
 

Wavelength

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A map that takes the right amount of time to get across with sprint always on is by definition, too big. It should probably take that long without and dash should only be used in rare situations...
This looks like a solid argument in theory, but when you think about it from a player experience in practice, it falls apart. Players like to feel fast and all else being equal they like to see more scenery per second.

To illustrate, take your assertion of "by definition, a map is the perfect size when it takes just the right amount of time to cross it with Dashing off" to its logical extreme, where the map is super-small and the player's Move Speed has been set to 1. It's true that it still takes the desired amount of time to cross this map without dashing, but it will feel horrible to the player, who would heavily prefer an Auto-dash speed of 2.

Watching Let's Plays of RPG Maker games, it becomes very clear that most players want to be able to move at a speed of at least 5 (standard "Dash"-level speed). Speed 4 is generally considered too slow (though there are a few players who like it better). Speed 6 is generally considered far too fast.

For reason like this, I believe in interface conveniences - allowing players to pick powerful/effective courses of action using the fewest clicks, fewest button presses, and shortest amount of time. Allowing a player to get across the screen in three seconds instead of six (or a large map in 40 seconds instead of 80) is an important interface convenience that should be available if Dashing doesn't significantly distort gameplay (e.g. making it too easy to avoid visible monster encounters), and it should be available without having to hold down the Dash button forever. This is still true (though admittedly less significant) for dense (rather than wide) maps.

Therefore, as a best practice, I recommend setting Auto-Dash ON by default so that most players can easily move at Speed 5, and allow players to set it OFF via the Options menu so that they can easily move around at a slower pace if that suits them better.
 

Piyan Glupak

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@bgillisp - With some RPG Makers it is possible to alter the speed the party moves. In my current project I use smaller versions of the actors' sprites in the overworld because I think it looks better. By default, it looks as if they are dashing along at a very high rate of knots. Whenever the party enters or leaves the overworld, common events adjust the party speed by use of the move route speed command.

Edit: I had been going to speed up the normal speed a tiny bit, but when I started using Yanfly's Core plugin, the party speeded up enough, in my opinion.
 

Fernyfer775

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I wholeheartedly disagree with the OP. Unless there is an absolutely great reason as to why you're going to slow me down as a player or make me have to hold an extra button to accomplish what "auto-dash" could already do for me, I'll very likely get irritated and not play the game at all. Like, your game would have to be absolutely amazing in other aspects to make up for that, because what that tells me already, from a design point, is that there really isn't much logic behind forcing me to not be able to auto-dash, which could translate to me thinking, "what other things did this developer do that's going to annoy me as a player?"
 

gstv87

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1. The first thing everyone does before they play a RPG Maker game is turn Auto-dash on.
if you have to enable the feature before entering the game itself, then the feature is engine-dependant, and not game-dependant.
so, it's not bad game design, but bad engine design.
 

Oddball

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Some people hate auto-dash. I hate auto-dash. But it is a useful tool that should go into most RPG maker projects, unless maps are small. If you don't like it, you could always develop a script to make the walking speed slightly faster. Or make a stealth game were dashing is a fast way to travel, but can draw attention from some enemies
 

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