Combat difficulty. What do you like?

Lord Valdyr

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Anyone here played breath of death vii or cthulhu saves the world? How well do you feel these games do their combat
 

HamPants

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I like random battles to initially require some thought and preparation, but eventually become more reflexive and simple - it lends a sense of growth. I like status effects to be punishing to the unprepared, but manageable to those who have prepared. I like boss battles to require a strategy beyond "bash! bash!", but I also like multiple strategies to be applicable.

These, of course, don't apply to bonus bosses, who should be devastatingly powerful, but still beatable without simply praying for luck.
 
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Hum, I think it has a lot to do with payoff.

I also agree with a lot of you.

Alright, let's see:

Unavoidable random encounter (appears when you walk around) = Though it can vary as you might run into a tougher monster, they normally come in two flavors. The tough guy whereas the whole group has to hit it over a couple of rounds, or the weak mob where your magicians come to shine. Then you have the "rare monster appearance" which is by all means, still a random encounter, but it is harder than the others. It has some specific resistances or special effects.

The important thing is, you should reward the player for the effort. If the monster takes a lot longer to kill, there should be more experience and gold.

The avoidable random encounter (like, there's a monster sprite walking around on the field and the battle screen appears if you crash into it.) = Depending on the situation, it could be harder than the other type of random encounter, though it shouldn't be crippling to the party.

The boss = This is where you should have some tactics for your party. The boss have buffs, debuffs, more health and do more damage. IN a personal opinion, it should never be able to kill a character with 1 move. It can mortally wound 1 or severally fully healthy ones, but a normal attack shouldn't kill a party member.

Optional boss = As mentioned above, it should be harder than the boss.

In short: If the player can't avoid the battle, it should be possible to end it quickly. If the character can initiate the battle on their own accord, it can be a bit harder.
 

Kapik

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Some rough guidelines:

Regular enemies - 2-3 rounds. If they die in one hit, it feels too easy; more then 3 rounds for a random battle feels tedious.

A rare enemy or a mini boss - ~5 rounds. Should be more challenging and more rewarding.

Regular bosses - 6-10 rounds. Should be memorable.

Penultimate boss(es) - 12-15 rounds. Should be special.

Final boss - 20-30 rounds, maybe split in multiple stages. Should be epic.

Optional bosses - up to 50 rounds, as long as you keep it entertaining...
 

Archeia

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I think there's also the problem that it starts TOO EASY and once the bosses hit, suddenly exclamations that there was suddenly a huge spike in difficulty. When it was really just playing around with your skills.

I think random encounters should encourage players to use the skills at their disposal and learn how to strategize with them and do different combinations. Learn it via experience so they can remember it better than handing it down on a silver platter. I found old school games amazing because of that.

This is just a personal preference though.

I actually am the same with Fafnir, I like my lethal overall. Lulling you into a sense of, derp this is easy, then suddenly, playtime is over.
 

Necromus

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I think there's also the problem that it starts TOO EASY and once the bosses hit, suddenly exclamations that there was suddenly a huge spike in difficulty. When it was really just playing around with your skills.

I think random encounters should encourage players to use the skills at their disposal and learn how to strategize with them and do different combinations. Learn it via experience so they can remember it better than handing it down on a silver platter. I found old school games amazing because of that.

This is just a personal preference though.

I actually am the same with Fafnir, I like my lethal overall. Lulling you into a sense of, derp this is easy, then suddenly, playtime is over.
What kind of old school games do you mean? Maybe i missed some essentials, but i can't really remember doing something else than exploiting elemental weaknesses or spamming the best single target or AoE skill you have available.

Old FF games were hard but not because of normal battles (aside from FF1 in it's original difficulty, that's just a reaaaal pita). The first time you played one, bosses were really hard, something that really hasn't been like that in the FF games past FF6, with some exceptions.

Other older RPG's like Lufia, Grandia maybe, Tales, Star Ocean all didn't have that either afaik, they didn't really promote thinking about tactics aside from optional boss fights.

What i like in games are battles that offer all kind of difficulty, as in rather easy normal battles, mid - strong bosses and hard optional bosses.

Every game should have some sort of cockblock from time to time, just not all the time and nothing too annoying.

I don't like random encounters or on touch encounters that are difficult or and rather specificly, tedious.They are just some rable on the way to keep you entertained, lvl up, get cash/items etc.

I don't like whimpy bosses either, but that always depends on if the boss is actually easy, or you're simply overlvled/equipped.

A steady curve for difficulty is important, so you don't go from the typical 1 hit down slime to the i can't beat that boss for the life of it fight.

But i don't think the normal encounters need to be really hard to acchieve that, rather ramp up the difficulty with some more mini boss fights.
 

Levi

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From my experience, there are two 'main' ways of going about "difficulty". I will outline these (how I see them) and say which I prefer, and why.

1. "Long Difficult"

-Where battles are drawn out, and victory is determined by endurance. Spamming potions, and using a few choice skills to maximize effectiveness.

---This is my least favorite. I don't feel that a battle has to "drag on" to be difficult. I don't want to pound back 30 health potions to have to win a battle. I don't think that victory should ever be won by who has the most health potions or the best healer. That's boring.

2. "Exploitative Difficult"

-Where battles are won by knowledge, and cleverness. Learning weaknesses, and exploiting them.

---This is my favorite. Where you must use every party member, in the most efficient ways possible, using skills and buffs in accordance with knowledge gained from previous encounters.. Understanding the enemies' strengths and weaknesses, and battling appropriately. The battle mustn't be drawn out, but a few missteps can mean defeat. Games with "freeze-time" battle systems (Mass Effect, for example) pull this off pretty well... and it works well in Turn-Based battle.
 

Archeia

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By old school games I meant a lot of them don't really take your hand and teach you even the basic of basics unless it's absolutely necessary. Most of them are actually on the manual but who reads those? :p

I mean I don't recall Zelda ever teaching me to swing the sword using a button. I just discovered it on my own.

Megaman X3 and so forth.

I don't recall Mana Khemia or Gust games teaching me. I just used a skill randomly, did some effects, and my mind was open to possible exploits I can do to the game.

I feel like RPG games should also follow the same tandem to make their random battles interesting. Make the player DISCOVER stuff and make them feel amazing about it, sort of thing (I don't honestly think FF is a good example of great battles, this is just an opinion). It's not about promoting tactics, it's making you learn and understand what you have.
 

Necromus

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Ah that's what you mean.

Well tbh, i always read the manuals, since they were interesting lol

But yeah, ingame tutorials didn't exist as much as they do now, that's just a matter of convenience tho.

I don't think thats directly connected to battle difficulty tho, explaining features of your battlesystems doesn't mean you won't have to figure out how to actually beat enemies.

Most games nowadays actually are like that, massive tutorials but you still need to find your tactic to beat a boss.

Saying that FF isn't a good example is mostly true for sure, but i wonder how you would make encounters interesting.

FF was pretty much all about discovering elemental weaknesses and maybe figuring out when you need to cast a heal or not.

That's not exactly super thrilling but the battles were pretty much always fun imo.

And they were exactly about discovering what you actually have and learning what to do with that, just pretty simple stuff, no super extraordinary combo system stuff.

In the end it doesn't really matter if you discovered that you're better of with spamming attack, instead of discovering that you're better of with spamming some skill, same thing, different package.
 

Archeia

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Saying that FF isn't a good example is mostly true for sure, but i wonder how you would make encounters interesting.

FF was pretty much all about discovering elemental weaknesses and maybe figuring out when you need to cast a heal or not.

That's not exactly super thrilling but the battles were pretty much always fun imo.

And they were exactly about discovering what you actually have and learning what to do with that, just pretty simple stuff, no super extraordinary combo system stuff.

In the end it doesn't really matter if you discovered that you're better of with spamming attack, instead of discovering that you're better of with spamming some skill, same thing, different package.
Shin Megami Tensei made this fun for me instead. That's always my basis for battles. (It can be sadistic but at least they keep you on your toes).
 
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The Infamous Bon Bon

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My daughter made me start playing FF6 again and I have to say it adds some annoying battle difficulties all of a sudden when you get to the floating continent.

When you leave the island it has a timer and battles you can't run from. This part is well done, but shortly afterward when you have to save a child from a collapsing house the timer there is brutal, you pretty much have to run from everything or you get squished. Soon after that you have to fight Phunbaba who is a real pain and will most likely kill you a few times, the biggest problem with this is that it is after a big cutscene moment that you can't save before the battle, which is a big pet peeve of mine. If you're going to make a boss brutal don't make me watch a cutscene each time I fight it again, its annoying!
 

Necromus

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Shin Megami Tensei made this fun for me instead. That's always my basis for battles. (It can be sadistic but at least they keep you on your toes).
SMT also has a lot of pita moments, freedom to build your mainchar and then bam, endboss immune to everything you.

Fun times XD

My daughter made me start playing FF6 again and I have to say it adds some annoying battle difficulties all of a sudden when you get to the floating continent.

When you leave the island it has a timer and battles you can't run from. This part is well done, but shortly afterward when you have to save a child from a collapsing house the timer there is brutal, you pretty much have to run from everything or you get squished. Soon after that you have to fight Phunbaba who is a real pain and will most likely kill you a few times, the biggest problem with this is that it is after a big cutscene moment that you can't save before the battle, which is a big pet peeve of mine. If you're going to make a boss brutal don't make me watch a cutscene each time I fight it again, its annoying!
Yeah world of ruin can be a real pain if your underlvled. But somehow it just adds to that helpless feeling you got after getting there. Nevertheless, some real crushing fights there yea. The timer part on the floating contient is actually one of the worst moments in the game, not because the timer is too short, but because you will miss a really coold character if you don't wait until a few seconds before the timer ends before you board your ship.
 

Jeneeus Guruman

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I realized that most of you want the normal enemies to beat easily. Yes, I want to also have them to beat easily but only in the early and middle part of the game. I want the final stages of a game to be more challenging like almost the same as early bosses but a little easier and rewarding because it's obviously already in final stages/dungeons and also to make it more thrilling, challenging and fun.
 

Necromus

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I realized that most of you want the normal enemies to beat easily. Yes, I want to also have them to beat easily but only in the early and middle part of the game. I want the final stages of a game to be more challenging like almost the same as early bosses but a little easier and rewarding because it's obviously already in final stages/dungeons and also to make it more thrilling, challenging and fun.
I think that's simply part of the natural difficulty progression you should have.

Endboss Final Castle Of Ultimate Doom of course needs some normal encounters that feel like they belong there, just there should always be a distinct difference between them and bosses.
 

Mouser

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I don't know about most people, but I find balancing a game to be one of the most difficult aspects. The game I'm working on has a pretty high combat difficulty - you generally have to cast at least one healing spell in every battle and it takes a while to defeat any enemy.

To me, this makes the turn-based combat system relevant. I always find it dull when I play an RPG and can sail through every battle just by selecting "attack" a few times. However, I can understand that not everyone appreciates something that borders on frustrating.

What do the folks around here like for their games?
"Balancing" is one of the hardest things to do in a game, period. I played on a MUD that was constantly tweaking game balance - and this was after years of constant playing and tweaking. There's always a little more that can be done, encounters to be changed, spells to be adjusted.

It sounds like you've got a balance point in mind (a very good first step) and are on your way to getting there.
 

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