Game Without Battles - Usable Items

doriantoki

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Hey everyone. I am looking for assistance in the form of brainstorming for a project I am currently working on. Well, assembling is more the word, I guess, as I am compiling ideas and resources and haven't gone from start to finish to create a solid narrative yet. Although the game flow, structure, and it's assets are quite far along.

The game does not have a traditional battle system and plays more like an adventure game. You still control your character over a series of top-down maps, and usually your goal is to go from point A to be point B. Sometimes it requires gathering information or key items, other times it involves avoiding environmental hazards, and other times still your characters utilize psychokinesis-like abilities to overcome obstacles.

A goal is to incorporate additional elements that doesn't leave the game world feeling empty. I don't want to conflate this with busy-work or simply collecting trinkets for the sake of collecting them, however. As I find this is a pit fall many games fall into so artificial swell the game clock.

The game emphasizes the "adventure" aspect, and as you travel along, you can send post cards back home. I am also playing with the idea of additional "memories" that are recorded in this same way, like a post card. This involves visiting a unique or important location and having the "memory" saved.

One thing I am struggling with is food. One of the bigger themes of the game is food, and it already has a variety. At first, I used food to restore HP and MP due to environmental damage, and using MP for casting psychokinesis. In streamlining the game, I have since removed stats completely. Environmental hazards no longer permanently damage the player, but impede progress unless navigated properly. Psychokinesis does not require MP to cast. So I am left with food items that are ... just there.

I've thought of incorporating a "restaurant experience" into the same memory system as the post cards, and other unique experiences. But there's quite a large variety of foods items, and having to shrink everything down to one restaurant per area/town seems too samey-samey.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? What are your thoughts on incorporating either foods, or usable items in a game that does not have a battle system, or even a traditional stat system to begin with?
 

Mewgles

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I think in a game without a battlesystem usable items are more important than if a game does have a battlesystem. Sure you need to use pots and stuff in battles, but there are lots of ways to have a battlesystem without any actual usable items.
Keeping the player busy and interested is key. So usually battles play a huge factor to that. If you don't have battles you'll have to achieve it with other game mechanics which usually tend to feel repetetive a lot quicker than battles. Since there is so many ways to make use of items for a game they help massively to avoid a repetetive feeling when done right.
You can use them for riddles/puzzles (combine item x with item y, find key x to go through this door, get item x to pay an npc, and so on), for achievements (find all of item x, use all of item y, eat every food once), as secondary currency in case the game has a shop system, just to name a few examples. There is tons of ways and possibilities. The only restriction, as almost always when making a game, is imagination^^
 

alice_gristle

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One thing I am struggling with is food. One of the bigger themes of the game is food, and it already has a variety. At first, I used food to restore HP and MP due to environmental damage, and using MP for casting psychokinesis. In streamlining the game, I have since removed stats completely. Environmental hazards no longer permanently damage the player, but impede progress unless navigated properly. Psychokinesis does not require MP to cast. So I am left with food items that are ... just there.

Oh, I dunno... maybe add some kinda stamina system? Like, the character travels and goes on adventures and they get tired? Then they have to eat food to get their energy back up? Or... maybe they have gluttonous or finicky friends that they have to bribe with food so that the friends don't just quit? Or maybe a cult of evil gourmands plague the characters and they have to be thwarted, like throwing a steak for the aggressive dog? :biggrin:

The other angle I can think of is that the food thing is a leftover, y'know, from your earlier development phase. Why not just cut it out if it doesn't serve a clear purpose anymore? Kinda like a "kill your darlings" scenario.
 

Oddball

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If there is no battles, why not use stealth segments, were the player is (kind of) nearsighted.
You could have audio cues announce when a threat is approaching outside the players range of view, and maybe have something to indicate the direction its coming from.

I suggest having the "enemies" have a sight range 1 tile shorter then the player so it's fair, and the visual range can double as helping the player gauge where/when it's safe to walk

Edit: Should probably also have a visual cue for the sound direction. This would allow deaf people to enjoy the game, and even give more info for all
 
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Dororo

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Food is there also in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin most like furnitures are in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, and just for one thing: completionism. Make a number (==a lot) of food, do trades, combine and give a special ending if you'll collect all the foods.
In Zelda: Links Awakening you'll collect the final item by a chain of trades (give x to y to get z, give z to w to collect q...).
Give a collector rank based on the amount of singular food collected so far to unlock new areas.
Find raw ingredients and recipes for a grinding experience.
 

KakonComp

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You could use variables and such for a hunger system where you'd need food; you can also use food as consumables that provide special abilities that can be used on the map.
All other items can be like Key Items, so you're using them all with the item select event command similar to most games with locked chests/doors. Key Items can also be used like skills to do stuff on the map; think of Golden Sun where you use different abilities to alter the landscape and solve puzzles, but tie that to item use instead.
 

duty

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You ever play a game called Dark Dreams Don't Die? It was adventure based with quick time events.

Every interaction the player performed drained a bit of stamina, to include interacting with people and attempting to use items or information in conversation. The protagonist refills that stamina by eating and/or drinking.

It was a nice little mechanic, because it stopped the player from just randomly poking around and trying every combination of thing to progress. It also left a reason to fill every corner of every scene with snacks.
 

doriantoki

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I think in a game without a battlesystem usable items are more important than if a game does have a battlesystem. Sure you need to use pots and stuff in battles, but there are lots of ways to have a battlesystem without any actual usable items.
Keeping the player busy and interested is key. So usually battles play a huge factor to that. If you don't have battles you'll have to achieve it with other game mechanics which usually tend to feel repetetive a lot quicker than battles. Since there is so many ways to make use of items for a game they help massively to avoid a repetetive feeling when done right.
You can use them for riddles/puzzles (combine item x with item y, find key x to go through this door, get item x to pay an npc, and so on), for achievements (find all of item x, use all of item y, eat every food once), as secondary currency in case the game has a shop system, just to name a few examples. There is tons of ways and possibilities. The only restriction, as almost always when making a game, is imagination^^

Yeah, you're absolutely right that items are going to be even more important here to inject flavor and purpose into the game. Which was my intention from the beginning when I decided to forgo a battle system and focus instead on telling a story.

At the moment, items definitely play into puzzles and advancing into the game. This is usually in combination with the character's psychokinesis techniques to navigate the environment, I am trying to avoid fetch quest style progression. And usually items are used as "key" items and for no other purpose. So I am trying to avoid this as much as possible, since it's just not interesting.

There will definitely be achievements attached to eating every food item :D

I hadn't thought of using them as a secondary currency. That's a great idea! Perhaps they can be traded at some point to a glutinous character in order to get a key item or to proceed. Thanks!

Oh, I dunno... maybe add some kinda stamina system? Like, the character travels and goes on adventures and they get tired? Then they have to eat food to get their energy back up? Or... maybe they have gluttonous or finicky friends that they have to bribe with food so that the friends don't just quit? Or maybe a cult of evil gourmands plague the characters and they have to be thwarted, like throwing a steak for the aggressive dog? :biggrin:

The other angle I can think of is that the food thing is a leftover, y'know, from your earlier development phase. Why not just cut it out if it doesn't serve a clear purpose anymore? Kinda like a "kill your darlings" scenario.

Yes, I've thought of a stamina system and it's definitely something I am considering. Thanks for the input. I have also thought about cutting it, but in this case it's important to the themes of the game. I know it sounds strange since it's food, but the game will definitely lose a certain ... flavor ... if I remove food completely. Sorry, horrible pun :headshake:

Food is there also in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin most like furnitures are in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, and just for one thing: completionism. Make a number (==a lot) of food, do trades, combine and give a special ending if you'll collect all the foods.
In Zelda: Links Awakening you'll collect the final item by a chain of trades (give x to y to get z, give z to w to collect q...).
Give a collector rank based on the amount of singular food collected so far to unlock new areas.
Find raw ingredients and recipes for a grinding experience.

I love the idea of eating enough "food" (or ALL the food) unlocking a secret area. I am imagining something like the land of chocolate from The Simpsons :D

Thanks everyone for the feedback (oh my, sorry for the puns). I'm seeing many comments around a stamina system, or using the food directly in events and/or for puzzle solving.
 

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