Battle System in a Puzzle Game

Alador

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Hello there, fellow game devs! I have run into a bit of a roadblock... I need to include combat in my puzzle game, but am not exactly sure how to go about it.

I want something like the GLaDOS fight from Portal, except that, while in Portal the player has a portal gun that is the main focus of the puzzles, in my game the puzzles are more in the environment and level design, and nothing inherently player-controlled. Do you have any ideas of how a boss fight like this would work?

As always, thank you!
 

Nenen

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Actually, you might say the proper answer is more of that exactly.
Environmental and Level-based 'combat'!

In Portal, the gun never got some sort of battle functionality, you simply use it the same tool but in a slightly different context. It's the environment and level that changes.

Now here, obviously you don't have any special tools (that you've told us about anyway)
- So it's going to be entirely on how you build that level.
- what sort of environment will the player be able to utilize against the enemy?
- and finally, What sort of enemy are we fighting?
(i.e. Will there be boulders and stuff you can roll or throw? Are there ways of causing things to collapse on top of them? Does the enemy 'charge' at you?)

All these are important questions to answer.
What the enemy can do is probably the most important as using their ways against them will be the biggest tool in the player's arsenal. (Sorta like in the Portal games actually!)

I'm taking your word for it that the battle has to be there, but I could imagine some might ask you whether you need a battle, so here's me asking. Do you need this battle? I'm fine with it being there though.
If you can give us any more information, we can certainly give you more specific ideas.
Hope that helped!
 

Alador

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Actually, you might say the proper answer is more of that exactly.
Environmental and Level-based 'combat'!

In Portal, the gun never got some sort of battle functionality, you simply use it the same tool but in a slightly different context. It's the environment and level that changes.
Huh, I never thought about it that way, I guess you're right!
Now here, obviously you don't have any special tools (that you've told us about anyway)
- So it's going to be entirely on how you build that level.
- what sort of environment will the player be able to utilize against the enemy?
- and finally, What sort of enemy are we fighting?
(i.e. Will there be boulders and stuff you can roll or throw? Are there ways of causing things to collapse on top of them? Does the enemy 'charge' at you?)
-You're right, I don't have any special tools, aside from abilities you get from bosses like progressively gaining more health/defense as the battle goes on.
-My game is somewhat of a non-Euclidian puzzle jrpg, so that's the sort of environment you have to work with.
-Each enemy has a special ability that their battle is themed around, and once you defeat the boss you get their battle ability, albeit a bit nerfed. I haven't really designed any of the levels yet, but those are certainly possibilities!
What the enemy can do is probably the most important as using their ways against them will be the biggest tool in the player's arsenal. (Sorta like in the Portal games actually!)
Huh, I'll remember that-
I'm taking your word for it that the battle has to be there, but I could imagine some might ask you whether you need a battle, so here's me asking. Do you need this battle? I'm fine with it being there though.
I mean, I don't necessarily need the battles, but seeing as it's a puzzle game and a jrpg I'd say having battles would be nice as it'd lend to the jrpg sense.
 
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Wavelength

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I completely agree with @Nenen and I think he explained it well.

Instead of creating a combat system for your game, instead think of how you want to frame the (puzzle/adventure) gameplay that's already working in your game to feel like a boss fight. Have someone on the other end throw more puzzle elements at you as you complete each one, encouraging or taunting you along the way. Make that someone on the other end an object of the puzzle itself - maybe you have to make objects hit them to knock them out of the way or damage them. Consider having a "health bar" of Hearts for boss fights, if you have any action elements in your game or if your puzzles lend themselves well to managing resources (perhaps you need to walk over just a few lava tiles to reach the exit, but walking over too many will empty your health).
 

Alador

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@Wavelength, thank you- my game is kind of like Antichamber if you've seen that game, it is a puzzle-jrpg about non-euclidian space. I bet I could frame it as a combat system, but do you have any ideas, perhaps?
 

Parallax Panda

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I was just about to make a similar thread before I found this one. Like you, I am making a puzzle game with JRPG elements in it, or at least, that’s the goal.
The way I see it though it’s not necessarily “battles” that is needed, but rather some typ of “action” element to keep the player engaged. For an Puzzle/RPG/Adventure hybrid game, like what we’re both making, I think the most natural type of action you could include are platforming and/or real time combat. Good examples of games that does this would be:

“Goof Troop” for SNES

“Lost Vikings” for SNES

Both games are puzzle games at their core, but adding in that “action” element probably opened them up to a larger player base, while staying true to their original design.

Unfortunately, neither platforming or real time combat would be good options for us, since such mechanics can’t easily be made in RPG maker without a ton of custom coding.
And even amongst those who’ve tried that, I know no one who’ve done it well enough that the limitations of the engine doesn’t shine through. It’s simple not a good idea.

so what can you do instead?

Well, the most easy method would be adding a timer to pressure the player. The classic puzzle game TETRIS does that as you have a limited amount of time to make a decision until the falling block hits the bottom.

But that’s would not really lend itself well to the “JRPG” theme. And I assume that just like me, you’d probably want the option of placing treasure chests (or similar rewards) on the maps as well, but in a straight up puzzle game, what will you give the player that’ll feel meaningful ?

Hard questions, and I’m afraid I have no good answers. Just wanted ti share my thoughts.
 

Alador

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@Parallax Panda, yes, those are some of the problems I've been running into-
 

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