Balancing a game with only one party member?

MechScapeZH

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
580
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Hello!

So, I've been working on a game where the player character is always alone. Obviously, this means I'll have to balance the game a bit differently since I can't rely on the time-tested Fighter/Healer/Mage/Thief party composition- or any party composition at all, really. :guffaw: The player will have only one turn as well, so they can't heal & attack at the same time, so I have to take that into consideration as well.

I've been (temporarily) solving this problem by making the enemies weak enough so that the player can comfortably take a turn to heal, but I recognize that I can do better.

I wanted to get the community's opinions- what would you say I can do to balance a game like this? (Besides add more party members, obviously. It's very, very important thematically that the main character always be alone.)
 

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
3,787
Reaction score
4,728
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
Well one party member should be easier to balance than many party members. The only thing I'd say is that your healing must recover more health than a single attack from enemies, otherwise it's going to be an endless cycle.

Also, with one party member, you gotta be careful of enemy health: it's easier to get ridiculously long battles with only one party member. So watch out for that.
 

MechScapeZH

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
580
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Well one party member should be easier to balance than many party members. The only thing I'd say is that your healing must recover more health than a single attack from enemies, otherwise it's going to be an endless cycle.

Also, with one party member, you gotta be careful of enemy health: it's easier to get ridiculously long battles with only one party member. So watch out for that.

Right, that's actually what I'm already doing- no enemy can one-shot you in a turn and healing skills recover a significant portion of your health, plus enemies have comparatively low health also. So it appears what I'm doing is correct, right? If so, that's great to hear. :)
 

empresskiova

Untitled Project1
Veteran
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
92
Reaction score
67
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
My suggestion is to have normal fights only incorporate few enemy battlers, maybe only 1 or 2. The enemy battlers might be capable of doing good damage to you, but you can also do really good damage to them.

You can also give the player a larger skill/spell list to choose from, since they have to be capable of doing more with less.

Also, I’d suggest having fewer fights in general.
 

MechScapeZH

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
580
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
My suggestion is to have normal fights only incorporate few enemy battlers, maybe only 1 or 2. The enemy battlers might be capable of doing good damage to you, but you can also do really good damage to them.

You can also give the player a larger skill/spell list to choose from, since they have to be capable of doing more with less.

Also, I’d suggest having fewer fights in general.

The most I have now is 3, so that's a check there... Thank you! I don't think I have too many fights, and collecting Skills is the point of my game.
 

Aesica

undefined
Veteran
Joined
May 12, 2018
Messages
1,614
Reaction score
1,518
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
One of the better examples of battles made both interesting and (semi) challenging with only one player character vs even several enemies was in (I'm ashamed to admit) an...err..."adult" RM game I played awhile back. The way it worked was something like this:
  • Every turn, enemies would have an icon over their head (or none at all) indicating whether they were going to attack/use a skill, use a special MP drain attack, or nothing at all for that round.
  • The MP drain attack would disable you for about 2-3 rounds, and if it dropped your MP to 0, you were rendered helpless. Aside from perhaps a few "break free" type abilities (only one that comes to mind was the limit break, which you needed 100 TP to use) the enemies got free hits in on you (or other things, given the game subject)
  • Attacking an enemy attempting to do an MP drain would cancel their action, saving your MP (among other things)
  • Certain enemies could counter, but only when they were making a normal attack action that round. This meant that sometimes, it was a good idea to attack and kill attacking enemies first, but other times, it was better to leave them alone until they go passive again.
  • The player's abilities used either TP (most attacks) or MP (a healing spell was all I ever saw)
  • The player also had a highly-powerful limit break that would fully recover HP and MP, usable only once per battle. Any subsequent limit break activations would instead use a lesser version (less damage, less HP/MP recovered)
Overall, the way the battle system was set up changed what would've been a "mindlessly attack target A, then B, then C, heal when HP drops below a certain amount" that single-battler combat usually is into something that was more engaging.

In a scrapped game I was working on (my first/learner game) the main character starts a sequence where she is all alone, but has several abilities with strategic elements behind them: one skill debuffed defense/magic defense, another would stun foes and allow the next attack to deal double damage. When used with a powerful, raw-damage attack like a limit break, it would let the player feel clever by setting up really big hits by using those abilities together. She also had several counter attacks--counter physical hits with a magical attack that also healed a bit of HP, and counter magical attacks with a physical hit that would recover some MP. These made the whole combat feel like she was more than just 1 character against several enemies, which was neat I thought.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you want to add things to really spice up the battle, because overall, 1 player battles can get really dull really quickly. You'll want to throw as many curve balls as possible at the player to keep them interested in the combat, given how only 1 character really simplifies things.
 

atoms

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 31, 2013
Messages
539
Reaction score
332
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MechScapeZH I'm not saying to do this or not, but you could also give the single party member more than one action per turn. If the party member has 2-3 actions per turn, for example, then you can find ways to include more than 1-2 enemies to fight in battle, if you wanted to do that that is.

Then, for another example, healing can then do a bit less, and then you can do a bit more with enemy health, and enemy attacks, and that party member's health, for example.

It's fine as it is to just have a single turn, but I thought I'd share this suggestion and possibility to you too.
 
Last edited:

kovak

Silverguard
Veteran
Joined
Apr 3, 2016
Messages
1,263
Reaction score
1,565
First Language
PT - EN
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I wont add much here since people pointed out many gameplay features you could test
So instead i'll add a list of a couple of games you could check out
  • Virgo vs the Zodiac
  • Megaman Battle Network
 

Hermoni

Villager
Member
Joined
May 5, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
15
First Language
French
Primarily Uses
RMVX
If I have one advice for that, just never make any state that make you loose the contrôle of the hero.^^
 

JMsoup

New guy
Veteran
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
53
Reaction score
38
First Language
Chinese
Primarily Uses
Possible method is to include lots of ways to avoid being damaged:
1) Counterattack moves
2) Shield HP over normal HP that can regen
3) Avoid the next X attacks
4) Summon a dummy to taunt and take damage

An alternative is to take inspiration from borderlands and give a 'second wind' effect. When the player reaches 0 HP instead of dying they enter a downed state and can recover a certain amount of HP if they kill an enemy before the turns run out on the downed state.
 

MechScapeZH

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
580
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
One of the better examples of battles made both interesting and (semi) challenging with only one player character vs even several enemies was in (I'm ashamed to admit) an...err..."adult" RM game I played awhile back. The way it worked was something like this:
  • Every turn, enemies would have an icon over their head (or none at all) indicating whether they were going to attack/use a skill, use a special MP drain attack, or nothing at all for that round.
  • The MP drain attack would disable you for about 2-3 rounds, and if it dropped your MP to 0, you were rendered helpless. Aside from perhaps a few "break free" type abilities (only one that comes to mind was the limit break, which you needed 100 TP to use) the enemies got free hits in on you (or other things, given the game subject)
  • Attacking an enemy attempting to do an MP drain would cancel their action, saving your MP (among other things)
  • Certain enemies could counter, but only when they were making a normal attack action that round. This meant that sometimes, it was a good idea to attack and kill attacking enemies first, but other times, it was better to leave them alone until they go passive again.
  • The player's abilities used either TP (most attacks) or MP (a healing spell was all I ever saw)
  • The player also had a highly-powerful limit break that would fully recover HP and MP, usable only once per battle. Any subsequent limit break activations would instead use a lesser version (less damage, less HP/MP recovered)
Overall, the way the battle system was set up changed what would've been a "mindlessly attack target A, then B, then C, heal when HP drops below a certain amount" that single-battler combat usually is into something that was more engaging.

In a scrapped game I was working on (my first/learner game) the main character starts a sequence where she is all alone, but has several abilities with strategic elements behind them: one skill debuffed defense/magic defense, another would stun foes and allow the next attack to deal double damage. When used with a powerful, raw-damage attack like a limit break, it would let the player feel clever by setting up really big hits by using those abilities together. She also had several counter attacks--counter physical hits with a magical attack that also healed a bit of HP, and counter magical attacks with a physical hit that would recover some MP. These made the whole combat feel like she was more than just 1 character against several enemies, which was neat I thought.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you want to add things to really spice up the battle, because overall, 1 player battles can get really dull really quickly. You'll want to throw as many curve balls as possible at the player to keep them interested in the combat, given how only 1 character really simplifies things.

This is... complicated. Honestly, I don't get it, and considering the... nature of the game, I don't really want to see it.

Your system seems better (or at least I get how it works)- I hadn't thought of adding a counter system. ...I hope you don't mind if I... borrow this. :guffaw: It's really cool.

Thank you!

@MechScapeZH I'm not saying to do this or not, but you could also give the single party member more than one action per turn. If the party member has 2-3 actions per turn, for example, then you can find ways to include more than 1-2 enemies to fight in battle, if you wanted to do that that is.

Then, for another example, healing can then do a bit less, and then you can do a bit more with enemy health, and enemy attacks, and that party member's health, for example.

It's fine as it is to just have a single turn, but I thought I'd share this suggestion and possibility too you too.

I thought about this, but it just seems wrong- it'd make the player character to be some sort of speedster, which would be fine if it was, say, The Flash, but it's not. Thank you for the suggestion, though. :)

I wont add much here since people pointed out many gameplay features you could test
So instead i'll add a list of a couple of games you could check out
  • Virgo vs the Zodiac
  • Megaman Battle Network

Never heard of Zodiac, but if you look at my game, you can see that I am... acquainted with Battle Network. (BUT CAPCOM CANNOT SUE ME BECAUSE I CHANGED IT :guffaw:) I love that game. I'll look up the other one. Thank you!

If I have one advice for that, just never make any state that make you loose the contrôle of the hero.^^

Oh, yeah. That goes without saying. If I was playing a game that did that, I'd throw my computer right out the window. :guffaw:

Possible method is to include lots of ways to avoid being damaged:
1) Counterattack moves
2) Shield HP over normal HP that can regen
3) Avoid the next X attacks
4) Summon a dummy to taunt and take damage

An alternative is to take inspiration from borderlands and give a 'second wind' effect. When the player reaches 0 HP instead of dying they enter a downed state and can recover a certain amount of HP if they kill an enemy before the turns run out on the downed state.

These are all great- I like the shield one & the dummy. I'll probably use those- the "second wind" is a great idea as well (I've never played Borderlands, so I didn't know about this). Thank you!
 

Kes

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
22,299
Reaction score
11,718
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
@MechScapeZH Game Mechanics Design is not for giving feedback on individual, specific projects - that belongs in Game Ideas & Prototypes or Games in Development. I let this one run, however, as it was providing a lot of general discussion which could be of benefit to others.

The nature of this particular forum therefore means that it is not appropriate for you to reject particular ideas because they don't fit your game. This could well result in an idea not being developed any further - even though to do so could have benefited other Members. If something doesn't fit your needs, fine, just ignore it. It might be just what someone else needs.
 

MechScapeZH

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
580
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MechScapeZH Game Mechanics Design is not for giving feedback on individual, specific projects - that belongs in Game Ideas & Prototypes or Games in Development. I let this one run, however, as it was providing a lot of general discussion which could be of benefit to others.

The nature of this particular forum therefore means that it is not appropriate for you to reject particular ideas because they don't fit your game. This could well result in an idea not being developed any further - even though to do so could have benefited other Members. If something doesn't fit your needs, fine, just ignore it. It might be just what someone else needs.

I apologize- I was under the impression that this was a feedback forum. I posted here because I thought I'd get more responses than if I posted on my game's thread. I will post in the correct forum in the future.

Should this thread be closed or moved, since it's in the wrong place?
 

Kes

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
22,299
Reaction score
11,718
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
@MechScapeZH If you're happy to ignore replies that don't apply to you, then I think it would be useful if it stayed here, as it is a topic which others might find helpful. If, however, you want the discussion to relate purely to your own game, then I can merge all the posts onto your game thread.

Just say which option you would like.
 

Aesica

undefined
Veteran
Joined
May 12, 2018
Messages
1,614
Reaction score
1,518
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This is... complicated. Honestly, I don't get it, and considering the... nature of the game, I don't really want to see it.

Your system seems better (or at least I get how it works)- I hadn't thought of adding a counter system. ...I hope you don't mind if I... borrow this. :guffaw: It's really cool.

Thank you!
Feel free to, although you'll definitely want some sort of plugin (yanfly's counter control) because RM's default counter system is garbo.

Here's what my approach looks like in action--note that what you're seeing looks overpowered because it's supposed to be. It's the first dungeon in my abandoned game. The skill she uses at the start buffs the counter rate to 100% for a short time.


Edit: Yes, the action sequences are pretty lousy (I like things, especially my counter skills) to happen much faster than that.

That said, the other game I mentioned, despite its subject, wasn't as complicated as it sounds, and it has a genuinely good battle system in spite of its...err...subject matter.
 

MechScapeZH

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
487
Reaction score
580
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MechScapeZH If you're happy to ignore replies that don't apply to you, then I think it would be useful if it stayed here, as it is a topic which others might find helpful. If, however, you want the discussion to relate purely to your own game, then I can merge all the posts onto your game thread.

Just say which option you would like.

I suppose it'd be best to leave it here. As you said, others can be helped by it, right? I'll just let the discussion flow rather than steering it.
 

empresskiova

Untitled Project1
Veteran
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
92
Reaction score
67
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I suppose it'd be best to leave it here. As you said, others can be helped by it, right? I'll just let the discussion flow rather than steering it.

Quite true, because one of my projects is a one-character only game! And some of this can be quite useful to me (and others of course!)
 

Eschaton

Hack Fraud
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
533
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I think crowd control is indispensable in asymmetrical battle situations. If enemies are going to need more than one "Fight" command to kill them off, the player would need a reliable means to keep other enemies locked down.
 

Aesica

undefined
Veteran
Joined
May 12, 2018
Messages
1,614
Reaction score
1,518
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Crowd control's tricky though when you only have one party member. There's a fine and dangerous line between, "it almost never works, not worth wasting a valuable turn on" vs "it's 100% reliable and lasts several rounds, so I can just stunlock my way to victory."
 

Eschaton

Hack Fraud
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
533
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
There's a fine and dangerous line between, "it almost never works, not worth wasting a valuable turn on" vs "it's 100% reliable and lasts several rounds, so I can just stunlock my way to victory."

One word: COOLDOWNS
 

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

Yay! Someone did a playthrough of my game. :D


When you thought you'd be finished with the grid, and spend ~8-9 hours on an arrow. How is this more difficult to than player movement?

Still some bugs hiding in there, but it's nearly complete.

I'm having it strictly follow the path a user draws, because there will be booby trap and other similar mechanics where you want to avoid specific cells.
I feel like banging my head against a wall every time I want to find that post that shows all the plugin header codes. Then I think "next time I find it, I'm going to bookmark it". Then I think "wait a minute ... maybe I bookmarked it last time because it took me so long to find it". Check bookmarks, and there it is :)
... a few of my main characters standing around doing nothing lol. I mostly wanted to see them together on screen.

Forum statistics

Threads
107,833
Messages
1,032,494
Members
139,983
Latest member
tembabavuma11
Top