"Battle" system ideas.

Treynor

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Long story short, I honestly hate the typical RPG battle system. Most attempts at innovating it usually involve making it mildly different. As such, I have completely removed combat from my game. However, I would like to add some kind of conflict resolution system that doesn't involve physical combat. This is where I'm a little stuck. My experience lies in writing and game design and I've decided to lean into those strengths by making my game a story rich game which is driven by complex characters with their own needs, wants, and flaws. This gave me an idea for a system but I'm kind of looking to bounce the ideas around with some folks.

The main character of my story is a passenger ship captain named Cara who is working for a corrupt corporation called the Space Transit Commission (STC). She has a lot of financial problems and hates her dead end job. I am thinking of creating an internalized system where the battles take place within her mind. She would argue with herself until a resolution is achieved.

For example:

The first character she meets is a noire detective who speaks like a noire detective narrating his own story.

dickcara.png

After she walks away from this conversation she enters into her internal monologue where she must decide how she feels about the person she just talked to. The end result dictates how future interactions will play out. I'm stuck on implementation. I toyed with the idea of simply creating a branching dialogue that goes something like this:

Wow, that guy was really [interesting / insane]. I really hope I [don't have to talk to him again / talk to him again]

There are 3 possible end results to this:

1. Choose "interesting" then "talk to him again" <-- Makes Cara feel positive about the guy thus making future interactions more pleasant and opens up new possibilities.

2. Choose "insane" then "don't have to talk to him again" <-- Opposite of above.

3. Choose conflicting options like "insane" and "talk to him again" <-- Makes Cara feel conflicted and possibly opens up some special options later down the line.

While some may view this system as interesting, my issue with it is that it's kind of just choosing dialog options so it's not really a "battle system", it's more of an internal conversation that is no different in format than a regular conversation. I'm hoping that people would be willing to share their feedback or suggestions on this idea. I really feel like I have almost everything to make a great game, but I also feel like it's missing a little spark.
 

JMsoup

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What if it was semi-player choice? For example, Cara is inclined to not talk to detective guy again (assuming the gut reaction), and the player is allowed to try to change her mind through a minigame or puzzle. In a way, the player is the 'good' moral system for Cara. Failing to help her through some important moral decisions may see her slowly turning corrupt, with a bad ending if she falls all the way. Of course, this would limit the moral choices to good and bad rather than grey, but it might work depending the story you want to tell.

Some ideas for minigames might be something similar to Asteroids where the player shoots down bad thoughts, or like Dr.Mario where 'moral' blocks must be stacked to delete bad intentions.
 

Treynor

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That's not a bad idea actually. The only downside is that it would take far more JS skills than I have to make those kinds of mini-games. Though, I could always commission them. Cheers, pengyou.
 

Wavelength

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Moving this to Game Ideas and Prototypes.

(Game Mechanics Design board is for wide-reaching design discussion that doesn't focus on a single game.)

Keeping the "gameplay" minimal in a game with a lot of choice, expression, and control over dialogue can actually be a boon - it stops the scope of your game development from ballooning too much, and lets you focus on the real impact of the game instead of getting distracted by innovative mechanics that might or might not work. I think the trick to making this kind of approach interesting is to emphasize the player's impact in the choices they make - for example, next time you talk to that man, have Cara telegraph how she feels about him in that first line of dialogue, and let that clearly drive the rest of the conversation, rather than simply having the man act in a certain way based on your choices from earlier.

If you really feel the need to add more game-like mechanics to the mix, consider having certain choices/actions grant you Items (perhaps the Items are just seeds of ideas in Cara's head, like Charm or Curiosity) that you can put together and use for bonuses in other conversations (to give you a better chance to make the conversation go your way, for example, or even offer you a second chance to choose an earlier option if you see it going poorly).

While I think that @JMsoup 's idea is quite interesting and certainly can work if pulled off perfectly, I think you're increasing your degree of difficulty - not only does the activity itself have to be interesting (and work correctly), but you also run the risk of splitting your audience. To the Moon had this problem and it turned a great game into a good one. The real draw of To the Moon, for nearly everyone, was experiencing its emotionally-loaded narrative and its sharp, clever writing. And then every one or two scenes, you'd be asked to wander around and finding random MacGuffins, and then solve boring Slide Puzzles, before you could move on to the next scene. Fans of hidden object games or puzzlers might have enjoyed that, but they weren't the audience who came for a compelling tale of trying to understand a dying man's dream.
 

Treynor

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next time you talk to that man, have Cara telegraph how she feels about him in that first line of dialogue, and let that clearly drive the rest of the conversation, rather than simply having the man act in a certain way based on your choices from earlier.
I have a variable for handling this at the moment, so I'm very happy to see you suggest this. I've always enjoyed this kind of emphasis in games, but I wasn't sure how other players felt.


If you really feel the need to add more game-like mechanics to the mix, consider having certain choices/actions grant you Items (perhaps the Items are just seeds of ideas in Cara's head, like Charm or Curiosity) that you can put together and use for bonuses in other conversations (to give you a better chance to make the conversation go your way, for example, or even offer you a second chance to choose an earlier option if you see it going poorly).
I think this idea is fantastic and I'm absolutely adding it. It adds depth to the game without increasing complexity on my end.

My game does have puzzles, but they're modern point 'n' click style. I know what you mean about the tedium of 'thrown-in' puzzles so I've done my best to avoid it. Most of the puzzles are hidden seamlessly within the environment anyway so they don't really have that 'puzzle feel'.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions.
 

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