Games based entirely on Auto Battle

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Black Pagan, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Black Pagan

    Black Pagan Veteran Veteran

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    Hi everyone ! Today, Lets talk about Auto Battle Feature in RPG Maker, Something that is rarely used in most Games.

    Most RPGs we see are just about button mashing these days. At some point, your hand aches and you get tired simply selecting the same Skills a couple dozen times in every Battle. How about a Game that does this for you while you sit back and relax, Enjoy interacting with the various - Story, Adventure or Puzzle Solving elements in the Game..

    • What is your opinion on a Game based on an Auto Battle System ?
    • How can you keep the Player interested in such a Game, From Start to Finish ?
    • What Features do you think compliment a Game based entirely on Automated Battle ?
     
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  2. mobiusclimber

    mobiusclimber Veteran Veteran

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    Phantasy Star II had something like that where it would mimic what you did in the first round unless you pressed a button to disrupt it. It's not a bad idea, but I prefer finding ways to force players to use different strategies for different enemies and to always have a reason to use all their skills and items, instead of just mashing attack over and over.
     
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  3. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    Not a fan. An auto battle can hardly be called a battle. A battle is not only an encounter, but it's also an experience for the player. If the argument is that it will make it so that the player doesn't have to manually select the same skill each time, than it's the battle itself that is flawed, not the fact that there is no auto-battle. That is just my opinion tho, and some player might actually like it.
     
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  4. Poryg

    Poryg Pixie of the Emvee kingdom, Ham of a Hamster Veteran

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    Imho autobattles are bad. If I'm just going to stare at a screen, I may just as well watch a movie.
    Battles that can be skipped through some auto calc may be fine, but definitely not battles where I'm just sitting and watching.
     
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  5. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I don't think I would ever play a game which was just auto battles. If the story was that good that it could hold my attention without needing game play, then I think the battles would just be an irritating interruption. Why bother having them? Might be easier to call it a VN and be done with it.
     
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  6. Aoi Ninami

    Aoi Ninami Veteran Veteran

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    I don't believe for a moment that you've actually played more than half the RPGs released "these days", or even half those released last year, so this is unsupported generalisation. But even if it were true, it's our role as developers (even if we're just hobbyists) to challenge the way things are and make changes. If other developers are falling into bad patterns and tired old ruts, we can watch our step and avoid those pitfalls.

    That said, I'd like to point to one example of a game with auto-battle that I consider excellent: DROD RPG. It may not be to everyone's taste, but it's a mathematical puzzle game with an RPG flavour. Combat is entirely deterministic, so you know how many HP a battle will cost you and how this will change if you get certain power-ups (and the game makes this information available, you don't have to do lots of mental calculation). So it becomes a pure puzzle to find a way through each level that leaves you with enough HP and other stats to defeat the boss.

    But I wouldn't make a game like that in RPG Maker using RPG Maker's auto-battle. The problem with doing that is that each battle would take quite a bit of time without giving the player anything interesting to do. Instead, I would skip the battle screen entirely and use eventing to remove the appropriate amount of player HP for each battle.
     
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  7. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I'm gonna say that auto battle is actually, alright. Maybe, this is the one you might imagine how auto-battle works
    If yes, well honestly such kind of battle is not really engaging to watch.

    However, things can be different if an auto-battle is something like this.
    And you can also hijack the control at any time you want. Granted, it is not really an RPG. And it's an action game, not turn-based.

    The thing about auto-battle is not about "Maybe, you can enjoy the other aspect like the story or puzzles". But actually more into making the battle more engaging to watch or optimize. It is not an excuse because the battle is boring, because it will make it an unnecessary nuisance like Kes said. You will actually be more focus on crafting the battle itself.

    As an avid grinder in most of the games, I got curious about what kind of min-maxing or how much upgrades I need to do before I could sit and relax while watching the battle goes on.

    A high-level command. There're also some titles that I forgot that use auto-battle with high-level command. You command the units by issuing "go for defense/offensive formation" or something like that, then the unit auto perform those issues without you doing it manually. Optimizing the equipment might be a thing too.
     
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  8. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I'll auto-skip on any RPG that features an auto-battle, because it communicates to me as player that battles are made to be mind-numbingly easy and grindy. It shows they have no confidence in being able to deliver an engaging combat system that will want me to play their game instead of watching it.

    And to address the point made in the post above, auto-battle does somewhat work in mobile titles, but for very different reasons, because they are played for very different reasons (I know, because I play some). Mobile games capture the folks that look for the quick 5-10 minute gameplay experience while at work, something to play on their phone when there's nothing else going on. There's the daily grind that becomes somewhat of a routine that can be relaxing, while still giving the feeling of making progress towards something. There are mini stories/events to experience, and many different units to collect. Maybe there is interaction with other players in a chat window. For others, it can serve as a gamble simulator. Gameplay becomes a small aspect in these type of games (though there are exceptions).

    People play RPG Maker games to get that real, albeit amateurish videogame experience. They look for something to actually play and get immersed in. Auto-battle goes against what people gets people to play these games.
     
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  9. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Depends. I've actually found it fun putting the tales games on auto battle and issuing commands when I need to interrupt what they are doing. Made it into a really low key simple RPG that way. But I'll agree it isn't for everyone to play that way.
     
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  10. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    I think we can observe a general trend here: auto-battle isn't made for everyone. If your goal is to design a game with auto-battle in mind, it will certain please certain players, but don't expect to please everyone at the same time.
     
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  11. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    While I'm generally not a fan of auto-battle (DQ4 had it for basically everyone but the hero) It depends on how much decision-making the player still gets to be involved in. In a typical RPG, where you level up, upgrade gear, learn skills, etc, then no. Please don't. Forced autobattle takes any interesting decisionmaking out of the equation and will result in a really boring game unless your storytelling and everything else is god-tier (spoiler: it probably won't be) and if this is the case, you should just remove your battles altogether because they're just a thing the player has to sit through to get to the next story segment.

    The only way I have seen autobattle work is when that's the primary draw of the game. Idle games, for example, come with the expectation that your characters will be autobattling while you're away doing whatever else. They're also often chinese moneygrabs meant to exploit gamers with addictive personalities, so there's that. Don't make idle games.

    Finally, I'm aware that there's an argument for autobattle as as way to blow past the boring/easy battles in games, but if your battles are boring to the point where players want to skip them with autobattle, then you need to have a look at your combat design and make it more engaging.
     
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  12. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    I don't mind games that are Manual Leader, AI Party if the battle system lends itself to it. For example, in Dragon Age II, there are "cross-class combos," in which one skill cast by one class allows another class's skills or attacks to exploit it for massive damage. If your AI-controlled party members are smart enough to play the game's systems, then I don't have much of a problem with it.

    In fact, I hold the opinion that the player being able to control only one character establishes a strong intimacy between the player and the character.
     
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  13. Black Pagan

    Black Pagan Veteran Veteran

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    So far, What I can infer from your opinions :
    - Not many people like Automated Battles, unless the Battle System seems engaging in some other way to the Player
    - I really appreciate the replies from TheoAllen, Aoi Ninami, mobiusclimber and Aesica pointing out example games with Auto Battle done right, That's really helpful, I'll look into them !
    - Milennin points out that Mobile Games tend to do this a lot. This is quite similar to what I had in mind - The Battle systems that we normally see in Mini Games like Battleheart, Except the Combat isn't fully automated in it.

    Thanks for your replies everyone, I'm eager to hear about more opinions regarding this Topic.
     
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  14. artoni

    artoni Writer, Editor Veteran

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    I think the only time I really used auto-battle is when I had Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis, wanted to level up characters...I just turned on a training session before I went to bed, and let it run.
     
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  15. Rinobi

    Rinobi Veteran Veteran

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    Auto-Battle is fine if the game is designed around it. Usually the engaging part is manipulating the results of said battle beforehand then seeing how they play out. You'll want to give the player a number of tools to manipulate the results of battle in order for the system to feel engaging. Having some modular control over how battlers behave in combat would help.
     
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  16. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    I feel like the Bravely Default series is worth a mention here even though its auto-battle feature was just an option for players, rather than a central part of the games. Bravely Second in particular really tricked out the system - here’s a quick rundown:

    - The games used a combat system most similar to RPGM’s Default Turn Battle, where commands are input all at once. Auto-battle allowed you to copy a full round of actions for your team and would begin repeating these actions each round as soon as you enabled it (a single button press to switch it on/off in battle).

    - You could also save specific auto-battle command configurations for quick access in future battles. You could load a saved configuration and even modify each of the pre-loaded actions before you confirmed and started the round.

    - You had several slots available to save these configurations, so you could quickly adjust your auto-battle strategy to deal with different enemy troops efficiently.

    So why did this work well, exactly?

    1) Bravely series random encounters are often extremely dangerous. Just filling up your auto-battle configurations with Attack spam is a good way to get killed as you fight different types of enemies. Using auto-battle effectively requires that you either already severely outlevel the content, or that you “solve” each encounter as you go with specific command loadouts which are guaranteed to clear enemies in one turn. Otherwise, you’re better off just battling normally.

    2) Each character can take up to 4 actions per turn, so manual command input can be tedious if you’re trying to grind against enemies you already know you can kill. This is likely one of the main reasons the games implemented auto-battle in the first place.

    3) The games go out of their way to make grinding relatively painless, since exploring their job systems is the main source of fun, and you need to earn JP to level your jobs up. Auto-battle is one of the ways the games facilitate the process. Most stats come from equipment, however, and good strategy is critical to success later on. As such, allowing the player to grind easily doesn’t automatically trivialize the later parts of the game. It was common to see people complain about their level 99 party getting mopped up by Bravely Default’s lategame bosses because they assumed they’d just be able to grind and power through without thinking.

    I doubt most people would go to the trouble of creating such an elaborate auto-battle system in RPGM games, but I think it’s a good example of how auto-battle can serve design goals beyond “make combat brainless.”

    If a game employed auto-battle as its primary mode of combat, I would expect the choices I make about my party outside of combat to be complex and meaningful. Designing a good strategy ahead of time should be central if the player doesn’t have the opportunity to employ tactics in the battles themselves. I think this applies even if combat isn’t that important to a game and auto-battle’s purpose is just to speed things along. If the developer is going out of their way to design battles, and I’m spending time watching them happen, I should be directly engaged at some point in the process. Otherwise, why include battles at all?
     
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  17. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    For me, a simple way to make an auto-battle game is keeping battles short. Not in turns, but time; 30 seconds to a minute sounds good. MV's battle system is actually quite slow (pay attention to how long it takes for a skill to start and then actually happen or for a turn to end. There's a lot of "lag"). With something like Bravely default, battles not only could be put on auto but sped up (4x speed?). This severely cut down on grinding, letting something like getting a high level in a job not take that long once you unlock it (since jobs are severely better once they hit about lv8-13 based on the job). Mind, the game was based around grinding some, even to the point of letting you turn off exp gain so you don't overlevel.

    I can't actually think of a game that fully goes into auto-battle. FFXII is close, but intentionally allows you to take over. Bravely Default is an option. DQ4 and action rpgs still let you control one character. Gachas are, well... It actually sounds like fairly virgin territory. I guess old rogue-likes (Fatal Labyrinth) and simplistic arpgs (Fairune) do come close, but still not quite what this sounds like.

    I think an important thing (as was pointed out) is that battle preparation is where the fun and interaction is. Battles basically become a game of planning ahead instead of reacting. There's also deciding what a battle is; in Advance Wars, there is no decisions about individual battles, it's just a single round of throwing stats at each other. But it is a trpg and a full map could also be considered the battle.

    Auto-Battle, specifically how it's programmed into MV (and I think other RMs), doesn't seem especially well done for this. It basically cares most about doing the most damage it can (and likely healing if it's important? I don't remember if Auto's ever heal).

    To be fair, that actually does sound like a good idea for incorporating rpg elements into a VN, where simple choices are the norm.

    Treating battles as effectively "field hazards" that take into account of equipment and drop exp sounds like a nice idea for a game with a focus on exploration, or is largely just exploration. Making a game with random encounters be like this but boss battles be actual fights sounds like it could be fun. Older rpgs also tend to have quick and simple random encounters that are intended to be won but lose you resources.
     
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  18. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    I like this concept somehow... lol

    The image I get in my head is a kind of game that its battle is kinda like dominoes, like a logic game of programming or something.
    Something like, everything is a set piece you laid out before battles. When the battle start, it's like you hit that first domino, running your program. And the fun can be at how it all fold out in battle. Battles are more of a tactical side. Like you're a commander inside a room issuing batches of command called "tactics."


    Here's my idea, but dunno if it will work...
    Aside from setting up each chars equipment and skill, you will have to manage "decks" of logic. Each decks will have things you can customize like, "set this skill as priority" or "heal when hp<30%." Or the command card in the deck may even be the characters formation itself. Dunno what type of tactics or logic should be in the deck yet, but when the battle fold out, in the intermission, you will have a choice to either switch deck to change your tactic up, or stay with the same deck to keep the same programming you make interact with the enemies in the battle. The layout will be more simpler with emphasis on a battle log window. It really work like a mobile game. So it's more of a creative puzzle game than actual rpg.
    Tho it's very abstract and I haven't seen any game that actually make it work and engaging. If someone were to do it, it would be a long and hard road ahead with a very risky result except when that person wants to be experimental.
     
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  19. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    FFXII has something of the second part, but doing that on a larger scale (such as a trpg) could work and make a trpg that's has more depth than normal. In RM, you could do something similar with multiple parties.
     
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  20. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    If you really mean with autobattle just sit there and watch them fight, that would be bad.
    This Idea would only catch people which arent interested in combat.
    In this case you could just make an game without combat at all and show fights in cutscenes.
    I would ignore such games, I really dont like autobattles, combat in RPGs is important for me.
    Someone remember Blitzball in FFX and how it was downgraded to automatic in FFX-2, man this still annoys me.
    In FFX-2 HD you could unlock and use monsters and npcs in combat but they are on automatic, too, Its just boring.
     
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