Good Length Before First Battle?

Anthyny

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Hello.

I was curious to if there's a length that is considered "Too Long" before that fateful first fight occurs that's usually accompanied by "This is how you play."

I'm talking like maybe just 10 minutes of dialogue and intros. 15 if you don't skip the movie intro.

Too long or is it passable if the content is worth reading?
 

negative_headed

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To me personally that depends on how interesting the things that are going on between the start and first battle are.

A lively environment, active role in what's happening around you, and interesting and/or humorous writing can get you a lot of extra mileage before combat.

Phantasy Star games, as much I've always loved them, they had a hardcore history of the dullest, longest, and less forgivable unskippable, intros. I'm talking mostly of 2 - 4 of course. And those managed to get away with something like 20 minutes of just bleh... But you were tired of it 2 minutes in so...
 

Elements

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All games are different, there is no golden rule.

I don't think you should really worry unless your first battle happens 1 hour into the game or something crazy like that. (Let's stick to average RM games talk here, I know in persona 4 you have to wait much longer lolol).

I know I've played a couple of RM games which took a fair while before combat.

Early combat for the sake of early combat can be a pitfall.
 
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Andar

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It can be done with extremes in both directions - I've seen advice to start the intro with a battle, and then there are games that don't have any battles at all in the entire game.


It depends on how important the battles are for gameplay. In action-RPGs the first battle should be within two minutes of starting - if you're going to story-RPGs without grinding, then you could go for half an hour without a battle.


But always consider the advise of the first poster: If you don't have a battle, you need something else to keep the player interested.
 
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Indinera

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Personally I prefer 2-3 minutes tops.
 

Chaos Avian

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It really does depend on the nature of your game. In one of my projects all the main/playable characters are established first, the a few events that then lead to battle (5-6 minutes), whereas my comedy gag game you get a one screen of text and it's near enough off you go~
 

CWells

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Well so long as you don't go metal Gear Solid long it shouldn't be too much of a problem for many. But some people will complain about anything.
 

kerbonklin

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My game starts off with an escape scene so it throws you into a small battle pretty quickly without too much instruction, which are explained later on before travelling.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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it really depends... if the intro part before the battle is nice and enjoyable, I don't think it will be a problem even if it's quite long...
 

Deep Thought

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As you can see in my signature, my personal maxim is no more than 10 minutes before the first battle or setpiece.
 

Archeia

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First 15 minutes of your game, I should be able to kick ass. That's pushing it but still, Persona 4 took a while to get really started and I didn't mind much. But really, more than that is just overkill.
 

Kaiser

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First 15 minutes of your game, I should be able to kick ass. That's pushing it but still, Persona 4 took a while to get really started and I didn't mind much. But really, more than that is just overkill.
Don't mention P4. Thats was stupidly long before things started picking up. I watched a stream on it and man I was so bored because of the introductions.
 

Archeia

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Don't mention P4. Thats was stupidly long before things started picking up. I watched a stream on it and man I was so bored because of the introductions.
It's different when you play and when you actually watch it. I think the Persona series are BORING when watched but when you have the controller it's just different.
 

Pern

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The start of my game is a guy running through an usurped castle, actually fighting through enemy troops. So the battle is practically at the start. Always start in action is what my writing professors always told me. I like it this way, since when you finally take control of the main character a little bit later, not the previous man fending off attackers, you have an idea on just how strong you can get and put everything into perspective. It might not be ideal for some audiences, but that's how I envisioned it. The battle system of my game is pretty skeletal at the moment, too. So lots of work there.
 

kerbonklin

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Well guys, just remember that the beginning of the game should be the beginning of a story. (and all stories have a beginning, middle and end)  Characters should be introduced, and the developer should want the player to care about the character, get to know them a bit through some dialogue and visuals. Throwing a close-to-immediate battle can mostly work fine only if there's some feels for it that happen at the same time, or immediately after. Otherwise people would be like "Who is this person i'm fighting with?" with a confused look on their face. (This is where visuals would best come into play to prevent this)
 
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gvduck10

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Ulex, makes some good points. Except I disagree with just one:

 

Maxim 6: Gamers never talk to NPCs unless the plot demands it.

 

I, along with several of my gamer friends, talk to EVERY NPC, and search EVERY pot, cupboard, fireplace and crevace of EVERY town. Of course I don't need that randomly hidden Herb or Potion, but it's still better than paying for them!! And finding these things are interesting. NPCs however, should present some insight or interesting tid bit about the world though. If every NPC just says "hey" "you're in my way" or "I'm a blacksmith"... then I'll not only stop talking to NPCs, I'll probably stop playing the game altogether. End Rant. ;)

 

Anthyny, I think you can take however much or little time you need, as long as the intro is interesting (like most of the posters stated). Pacing is hard, especially during the first parts of your game. take two concessions, when testing your game, you're liking to just hit enter through all the dialogue and events because you know whats coming. an actual player will go a little slower because its new to them. second, the best approach for storytelling in games is to use a mixture of styles dialogue (talking), action (events/cutscenes), narration (story-bookin' it), exposition (playing). If its all one thing or the other, its boring. Players should NOT be pounding through dialouge while screaming "WHEN DOES THE GAME START?!" but too little will leave them confused. Probably as confused as my answer just was :p
 
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Probotector 200X

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I'm willing to wait...sometimes.

For example, Final Fantasy VIII is one of my favorite games, and usually, partially by choice, I barely get a fight in within the first 2 hours! It's like, there's not that much forced dialogue, but there's a lot of optional stuff to do from the beginning. Talk to everyone in the place you start. There's a minigame you can play already, and it's good fun. The game has a wealth of information you can access from the menu, and some from a terminal in some rooms...most of it background information and gameplay tutorials. I manage to spend a long time doing this before getting to my first battle. But you know what? I love it. Battle is not the only gameplay in RPGs, you know. Plus, the game actually "starts" with a battle. A movie scene showing you a fight...not the same thing I know, but it almost feels like you fought a battle right away...

But that's a special case, and definitely not an RPG Maker game.

I'd say it depends on the tone and length of your game. If you have a longer game, I wouldn't mind waiting longer to fight. But some people might get bored of waiting.

I personally, tend to have a battle ideally within the first 15 minutes or so. I say ideally because I've never fully finalized an intro for ANY of my projects!

I do have an RPG idea that starts a battle IMMEDIATELY when you select New Game. Like the battle effect "whoosh" would happen as soon as you start. Maybe, use one of them scripts that lets you skip the title screen if there is no save file, and it's like BATTLE IMMEDIATELY. As soon as you open the game the first time, that would be interesting. SaGa Frontier 2 actually sort of does this, but it's a computer controlled, quick battle. Speaking of SaGa Frontier 2, it starts out rather slow battle wise if you follow Gustave's story first. But hey, the graphics are great, the music is beautiful, and the basics of the characters and plot so far is interesting enough (and a heck of a lot happens story-wise for young Gustave in the beginning)

Also, one of my RPG projects, I felt would start a little too slow for the main character, so I threw in a prologue battle using really high level characters doing some super important battle in the beginning. There'd even be dialogue during the fight, so it's not just BATTLE first.
 

aironneil

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You're pretty much going to want to suck the player into your game at the get-go to keep them invested, so too much backstory at the beginning could be a bad thing. People want to play these games to be entertained; backstory should be developed through the course of the game as needed. I'd generally say that you want to teach the player to play your game pretty early, so if battles are a major part of your game then you'll want some sort of tutorial battle early on. But most of all keep it engaging.

But as for your question, anything CAN be pulled off if done right. If the game is shown to be story driven then people are generally going to have more patience on that sort of thing. But remember that there is a limit (like Metal Gear Solid 4's beginning). At the very least, I suggest that you have the player actually doing something within the first 10 minutes of the game whether it is just walking to some location, or having their first battle it can get boring if the game is cutscene after cutscene.

So there's my ten cents on that.
 
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