Boss Battle Build Bout Musings

ATT_Turan

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Now that everything's submitted, I'm curious to get some design thoughts from those of you who participated. How did you approach trying to design something with such a limited focus? Did you experiment with any new techniques? What parts were you particularly pleased with, or was there anything you were disappointed in?

Design
Given the small scope of the game, I decided I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing. This might have been not a great decision, as I think I spent at least 30% of my time figuring out how MOGHunter's BattleHud worked and how to modify it...but I certainly learned stuff! And I did some image editing, which is not typically my strong suit.

Aside from that, I wanted each class to thematically embody what they were supposed to be (so I don't need to say "this is an alchemist" for it to be obvious to the player). I decided to have each of them rely on different resources they'd need to manage through the fight.

Then, I went for a fairly strong skill design of "this counters this," or "this excels in this situation." This might have a bit of a learning curve, so a player could die the first time or two they try, but that was key for me to having an interesting fight that could be completed in the time limit (as my understanding was that losing did not count against the 10 minutes).

Pleased
I did some new stuff with A.I. that I think works well, especially as related to my skill design plans above. I also think the HUD is generally good-looking - if I were using it for a full game, there's more I would tweak, but it's pretty. I also learned my way through several new plugins I hadn't used before which might benefit me in future projects.

Disappointed
There are a few places where the aesthetics aren't polished. Sound-wise, I didn't have the time to make the animations sound as interesting as I might (the default animations often have 2-3 sounds combining or overlapping, and I was just, like, tossing stuff in so it had some sound). I also skimped on some of the action sequences, so they're not as fancy as I know they can be...I just ran out of time.
 

Milennin

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I went with a constant power stacking mechanic, something I've always wanted to try to make for RPG combat, but never got around to doing before. Also took the opportunity to practice some battle sprite creation, just because I felt like it and had enough time left before the deadline. Other than that, I pretty much stuck to what I think I'm good at, and it helps that what I normally go for with RPG combat already deviates from the average RPG Maker combat in many ways.
But I can already see my entry getting disqualified for taking too long to complete, regardless of how smug the admins are about being able to read so many words a minute and how 10-minutes are more than we think it is (despite the fact my boss is beatable in under half of the time limit set for the contest...)
 

ATT_Turan

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I haven't tried your entry yet, but
...regardless of how smug the admins are about being able to read so many words a minute and how 10-minutes are more than we think it is
That doesn't seem like a helpful attitude. I read quickly, too, but how the heck long are your skill descriptions where the number of words per minute has a significant effect on how long your fight takes? O _ o I don't think it has to do with smugness.
(despite the fact my boss is beatable in under half of the time limit set for the contest...)
Then that should be good! I mean, if you're saying reading the skill descriptions would take over 5 minutes, I suspect there might be some unnecessary verbiage going on. I'll let you know later.
 

HexMozart88

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I didn't have the time nor the correct engine for this, but I wish both of you luck. ^w^
 

Cythera

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I had fun with this contest! I wish I personally had more time to work on it; I know my entry is not visually impressive compared to some other entries.
I was able to try about a few combat mechanics I've been itching to make lately. I did trim some stuff out, considering both lack of dev time and the 10 minute timer limit. Overall, I'm okay with how my entry turned out. If I had started earlier than Thursday (cough cough) I would have been able to make some better battlers, animations, and improve the sound side.

I'm looking forward to playing everyone's entries! Managed to get through a few, though...a lot of them are over 10 minutes. By a good chunk. I'm a fast reader, and I like to think I'm at least decent at RPGs and strategy, and I was still 15-20 minutes on some entries - one entry was 30 minutes before I quit as the boss was just at 35% hp.
The factor seemed to be number of skills, and complexity of skills. More words, more reading, more processing "so if I do this skill, and use that other skill with party member B, then I can get this effect..." I do think people overshot the design side a little, but hey, I'm not a judge, so maybe I'll be proven completely wrong :yswt: My impression of the time limit was, the judges are looking for fast-paced, aggressive combat.
 

ATT_Turan

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So @Milennin I definitely don't see why you're concerned about reading your skill descriptions taking so long.

I think the Philosopher's Stone mechanic is cool.

Did you realize the alignment of your portraits in the HUD is jacked up?
 

Quexp

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My goal, after initially giving up, was just to try setting up things, in the database, that I generally shy away from. Example: setting up what equipment/skills each class can have and setting up what initial equipment for each actor.

I'm not used to using the database for finer details so this was a good challenge for me to participate in. I started to tinker with the skills but decided to use built-in ones (just renamed a couple and edited animations) since the judges would most likely already be familiar with them, thus shaving a little off playtime.

My main in-game focus was on characters and trying to find the right balance on stats. In hindsight, I realize I messed up and did elemental strengths/weaknesses wrong though.

I may not have accomplished my character creation goal but I'm still glad I participated because it forced me to practice something I'm not comfortable with. :)
 
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ATT_Turan

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My goal, after initially giving up, was just to try setting up things, in the database, that I generally shy away from. Example: setting up what equipment/skills each class can have and setting up what initial equipment for each actor.
Interesting! Amusingly, I did the opposite - since it's only one battle in isolation, I figured equipment doesn't matter at all. I just put all of the classes at level 1 to have the stats I wanted them to have.

They wouldn't even have weapons except I needed them graphically :wink:
 

Eliaquim

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Nice topic!

Well, it was kinda hard for me. Making plugins is far easier than making games xD

When I start it, I knew that I will only be able to work on it for two days. I started Friday and make the rest on Monday(yesterday). So I get real strict in the time limit on my head. Ten minutes.

I choose the Front View Battle mainly because I don't like the side view, and also I think it's faster.
I was afraid at first because I almost never messed with the battle system, so there are basic things that I did not understand, as the priority of enemy attacks for example and by default, the animations do not play on the front view portrait of the actor's xD.
So it was a real challenge to me since I started very late.

With all that in mind, I thought that I need to make something simple, fast-paced, but fun(Hope I managed to do it haha).

Classes
Each one has a specific function on battle that is clearly visible through his commands on the actor command window.
Few skills and items, but basic ones: Heal HP, remove status, do damage, revive, and buffs.

Boss
Part of the fun was to divide the boss into three: Head, Wings, and Tail. Each one has a specific advantage to take down the heroes. Like one uses magic, other physical attacks.

Stats Balance
That is though. I hope that I did manage to put it right. But that was really tough for me. I think it could be better.

Visuals
Thanks to the amazing community, I manage to find some plugins that fill a lot of holes in my project. One of them was to play animation on the front view portraits of the battlers. Other ones that quickly change some visual stuff. Shake the enemy when it gets hit, change portrait positions, etc.
The good part of it, that I manage to make some edits on most plugins, achieving some nice results in little time. That was the key to balance the time I have.
And I really wanted to change some visual stuff of the battle. The game will be fast, so at least the players can open and not see the default visual part of the maker but also not get confused with too much information. It was not revolutionary, but at least I manage to run from the default.
Didn't have the time to work on animations though =/

Sound
I manage to find custom bgm but did not have the time to SE/ME stuff. :(

Lastly
I'm happy with the results, but I know that I could do a lot better if I have started at the beginning of the event. But maybe starting at the beginning, I also could lose sight of making something simple and exceed the time limit. Overall, I had a lot of fun, and that was the thing that really matters to me!
 

AssumedPseudonym

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 My approach was simple: Learn some RPG Maker combat stuff.

 Until the BBBB event, the only thing I’d done was mapping and eventing, with the only combat I’d done being a single fight with very slightly tweaked stats to a new project enemy. Literally everything in my entry was me experimenting with new techniques, from the skills to the damage formulae. The limitations to the event (with the possible exception of the ten minute time limit) actually worked to my favor in that it made me focus on the fight itself instead of any of the peripheral events that might be going on in gameplay leading up to it.

 Generally, I just tried to keep it simple. No plugins, no JavaScript calls (although I did wind up throwing one in anyway), nothing that’s not included in the out-of-the-box RPG Maker. I’m fairly happy with how the whole thing turned out, even if I did probably botch the Dragon’s skills so that he doesn’t use certain ones often enough.

 Also, as far as a crash course intro to combat goes, this was perfectly timed for me. I was really getting tired of mapping. ^.^;
 

ATT_Turan

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They are? It always looked fine on my screen during my playtests.
portraits.png
I have no clue what would make it display differently between playtest and deployed, but there ya have it.
 My approach was simple: Learn some RPG Maker combat stuff.
It's a good goal! An important aspect, for sure.
Generally, I just tried to keep it simple. No plugins, no JavaScript calls...
Heh, yeah, I made sure I didn't copy things all willy-nilly, and only put in what I felt I needed. I was still surprised at just how many plugins ended up in my project to achieve what I wanted for one fight. But I agree, if you haven't done combat basically at all, it's definitely best to go vanilla and design things in that until you get an understanding for how it works and what you'd want to manipulate.
 

HexMozart88

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I have no clue what would make it display differently between playtest and deployed
The only thing I can think of is that you have a different screen res than they do.
 

ATT_Turan

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The only thing I can think of is that you have a different screen res than they do.
That wouldn't make any difference, the game is windowed - it's displaying at the resolution that Millennin decided (which appears to be the default). And you can see the rest of the UI is taking up the correct space and in the correct positions.
 

Milennin

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View attachment 203156
I have no clue what would make it display differently between playtest and deployed, but there ya have it.

It's a good goal! An important aspect, for sure.

Heh, yeah, I made sure I didn't copy things all willy-nilly, and only put in what I felt I needed. I was still surprised at just how many plugins ended up in my project to achieve what I wanted for one fight. But I agree, if you haven't done combat basically at all, it's definitely best to go vanilla and design things in that until you get an understanding for how it works and what you'd want to manipulate.
Ah. I see. My friend said he wanted to do a small edit to a face, which was after I had already fully finished and balanced my entry, so I just replaced the original face img with his edited one, not knowing he had actually changed the dimensions on it. He doesn't use RPG Maker, so I guess he assumed the dimensions didn't matter, but I also didn't bother to check on the edit ingame since I'd already done all the gameplay tests that I needed. Well, at least entries aren't judged on presentation, lol.
 

AphoticAmaranth

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Honestly, I just wanted to actually finish a project, and this was a perfect opportunity for me.

Design wise, I wanted everything to feel like it "fits", so I went for theme naming, for both the character names and skill names. I wanted to offer multiple strategies so that not all players would play the exact same way (and also replay value). So, I avoided giving dedicated roles to my characters, instead enabling everyone to do a little bit of everything.

As for the boss, I wanted a boss that challenges the player to think. Thus, I tried to make the boss powerful but predictable, and easily countered if you understood the mechanics. However, since players probably won't know how everything works on their first try, I made the first half less punishing, to act as a 'tutorial'.

I experimented with a few plugins and mechanics I'd never used before, and learned quite a bit during this whole attempt, so for that I am pleased.

In hindsight though, I think some of my mechanics might have been too poorly explained, in particular the bosses' debuffs.
 

Quexp

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They wouldn't even have weapons except I needed them graphically :wink:

I didn't think of weapons until test running battles while trying to make the dragon beatable. I had its HP waaay to high at first. Haha!
 

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 I’ve discovered something… unfortunate.

 While I can make something for an event like this, actually playing through all of the other entries was… problematic. It had nothing to do with time constraints or anything — the whole collection of submissions should (theoretically) be doable in less than four hours — but having to play through each one and learn its mechanics and interactions on the fly without any sort of tutorial to push me in the right direction…

 To put it bluntly, I couldn’t do it. Particularly not after having spent almost a month learning how combat in RPG Maker even works at all. I put so much into figuring out how to make my system work that the first entry I started playing using someone else’s system felt so brain-meltingly alien that it was pushing me toward a panic attack, and all the more so because I knew I’d have to do it twenty more times. While I can do the whole learn-as-you-go thing if I’m working at my own pace, apparently I need clear direction if I’m working under any sort of a deadline, such as the two days for judging and voting. …Also RL threw a couple of entirely unnecessary middle fingers at me on those two days, which didn’t help… >.<;

 So in the end, my contribution to the event was just my entry, but not anything voting related. I’m chalking this up as a learning experience, though: I learned a fair bit about combat and I learned that apparently I’ve paid more attention to game tutorials than I realized.

 And now I think I’m going to go do the One Map Game Challenge, because that looks like it’ll be fun. Might even drop my BBBB entry in at the end. I mean, I did just make a boss fight, after all… ^.^
 

ATT_Turan

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I definitely have respect for the judges. None of the entries were terribly hard to grok taken on their own, but playing through them successively definitely was giving me some brain burn.

And the different graphical and UI styles go in there, too - again, no single one was very hard to comprehend (except some that went a little unicorn-vomit for my tastes), but transitioning between them added to the mental challenge.
 
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My entry is basically just a reskinned and streamlined version of a fight from a larger game I've been working on, so I spent very little time on it. For me, the one thing I was most looking forward to was seeing what cool or unique boss mechanics each entry had, but for the most part it was the classes that had all the interesting strategic moves. The bosses were, almost universally, just simple attacks & stock status effects. There was plenty of cool class design, and definitely lots of great visuals, but that wasn't what the contest was about for me.

For example, my boss is built entirely around one mechanic; the party is afflicted by a curse that doubles your defense stats, but kills you after 5 turns. You have to remove it (using a certain spell or items) before those 5 turns are up, but the longer you let it last, the longer you can take advantage of the boosted defense. The classes, on the other hand, are extremely simplistic so the player can immediately focus on the boss. I felt like most entries went too far in the other direction, loading most of the complexity on the classes and leaving the boss to be just a punching bag that tests your execution of the actor's moves. So playing through them all at once, it felt like it was my characters who were changing more so than the enemy.

Still, that was just my interpretation. And there were definitely some entries that did cool things with the boss, like the one where you are shifting between different realms which decides which elements it uses and which statuses it inflicts (I forget the name sorry) or Milennin where the boss has several different kinds of moves (charge, fly, sleeping) that are each countered by different attacks. That said, some of them definitely went overboard on the complexity. I beat Milennin's on the first try but it took me 25 minutes!
 

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