Good Length Before First Battle?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Anthyny, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    I think just let it flow naturally. It depends what type of game you're making. If you start in a town and want to create something lively with it, you may actually spend a long time in that town before combat begins. Or you start in a town and are going to explore the world, save it, whatever, you may leave the town almost immediately and start combat then.

    You might start the game IN a battle, or have a introduction scene followed by a battle on a way to the next location. If it's a dungeon crawler I'd expect you'd start combat within the first few minutes of the game.

    If it's a game like the Harvest Moon series, you may not have any combat or minimal combat reduce to a small aspect of the entire game.

    There are so many possibilities I recommend thinking of "What naturally flows next with the way I'm starting out this game? Is this the best way to approach this type of game? Will it be fun for the player?" instead of "I must add combat soon, when should I add it in?".
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2013
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  2. Naridar

    Naridar Giver of omnomberries Veteran

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    I think there are three crucial points in an RPG gameplay-wise (but these can be extrapolated to other genres):

    - The moment you are first thrown into battle (or actual gameplay in other genres)

    - Where the hardcoded tutorial ends (as in, the point where the game finished teaching you its' basic concepts or most of its' crucial features are unlocked)

    - Where the game takes the kiddie wheels off (as in, the point where it reaches its' final degree of difficulty curve)

    The three can happen in mostly any order and at wildly differing intervals, or some may be missing overall. I'll list some examples:

    Dragon Quest IX:

    - You'll be fighting a battle around 3-4 mins into the game. (point 1)

    (- you're free to roam the world after about 30 mins - point 1.5)

    - You unlock the vocation system around 3-4 hours in (point 2)

    - The most meaty part of the game (grottos, alchemy, etc) begins only after the final boss is beaten (45-50 hours in) - point 3.

    Final Fantasy XIII:

    - You're thrown into a battle after about 2 minutes of intro (point 1)

    - The crystarium system for improving your characters is unlocked at the start of chapter 3, after 4-5 hours (point 2)

    - The final degree of difficulty is reached at chapter 11 (30 hours in) - point 3.

    Persona 4

    - There are no battles for 3 hours (point 1)

    - You unlock the ability to fuse personas after about another hour, 4 hrs in (point 2)

    - However, from there on, the game is in full blast in difficulty and features alike (point 3 = point 2)

    Rayman Origins:

    - After a 30-second intro, you're immediately thrown into action (point 1)

    - The crucial and non-situational skills are introduced to you by the beginning of world 2 about an hour in (point 2)

    - After Golly G. Golem, the game's difficulty reaches its' final curve about 4-5 hours in (point 3)

    I'd compare these phases to gears of a car. You can only start the vehicle in gear 1, or else it will stutter or stall. When the engine rev is sufficiently high, you can shift to gear 2, then 3, and so on. It's generally better to travel in a higher gear, as lower gears are generally slower and waste fuel. However, the player might not feel this immediately - in the example of Dragon Quest 9, the main game is enticing enough to come back to, but on the other hand, Final Fantasy XIII feels like a slog in its' first 10 chapters, and especially in chapters 1 and 2. Skipping gears is also possible, but should be treated carefully.

    For RPG Maker games, I'd say the optimal lengths are:

    - No more than 20 mins to first battle.

    - Introduce all special features by the end of the first "chapter" or about 1.5-2 hours.

    - Reach the final difficulty curve in another 2 hours after that.
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  3. Gilsev

    Gilsev Veteran Veteran

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    I would say to go exactly 5 minutes to 24 hours... depending on what role combat will have in your game.

    Honestly, as has been said many times in this thread, there is no golden amount of time to wait before throwing combat at the player. Try to scope out the first 15 minutes of your game, what do you want to say/do and ask yourself if combat fits into that time frame. If it doesn't, do this again for the second part of your game (the next 10-30 minutes) and keep asking yourself f combat fits here... if the answer is 'No' through your game, then you probably don't need combat. If it comes in early, then you know where things land. If nothing else, you will have set up a framework for your games' progression.
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