How to make fun "Attack"?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by kairi_key, Nov 22, 2018.

  1. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    This is inspired by thread about guard command, lol.

    Attack is your most basic and mandatory command in most RPG, so it's important enough as it is. Though, most of the time, smashing attack command is considered to be less fun way to play a menu-based rpg. Attack command also often fall out of use later when games give player great skills.

    So, how do you make it more important or more fun?
    Or how do you give them more strategic value to somehow make the command still have its value even in late-game?
    Or do you, for some reason, consider to take it out completely?
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    The problem I usually see is, using skill costing MP. And MP is a limited resource.
    Spamming skill was fun, then I ran out of the resource. Looking at some weak monsters, "I'm just gonna do a smash attack. This isn't worth using a skill". Thus the game is about smashing attack button.

    Later in the game, you faced with the boss. You went all out with all those MP reservations, and maybe forget entirely the attack command until you ran out of MP, so you did the basic attack. You felt awful because of it just basic weak attack command.

    In my opinion, the attack command itself doesn't have the problem. The problem comes down to the skill commands. It's overshadowed that it's almost worth to just use skill than attack command. The game doesn't encourage you to switch between attack/skill command. The case I mentioned above, when you engaged with a trash mob, it isn't worth your time to use a skill. When engaged with a boss, you switch your playstyle to just spam whatever the best skill you have. Rendering basic attack command useless.

    In my game, I don't use MP. Instead, I use a modified TP system where all the skills require TP to use. The TP pool is small, so you couldn't save up TP to save it for later to use all of the skill. So I encourage my players to use the skill whenever it's up. When it isn't, you use the basic attack command. Those skills are also deal a different element damage. Makes a character with a primary damage element is, for example, slash, can use different element damage with using a skill. An enemy that resistant to heat but weak to slash, maybe it just better to use normal attack anyway.

    In short, I don't modify anything out of my attack command. I just make it more relevant and worthwhile to use by tuning down everything else.
     
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  3. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    For more traditional RPGs, I find that I only use Attack if using skills take too much resources and regenerating them is a hassle. On a game where attack deals near to the skill damages, I also tend to just use attack (why spend MP if I can et almost same result without spending?).

    TBH, I feel like making "Attack" more useful tend to make "Skills" less used. So as much as it solves the attack problem, it now creates a problem where people dont use your skills..

    I'm leaning more towards how some more action oriented games does it, using attack is your way to generate resources for your skills. But if your game is a bit slow paced in battles, this might be bothersome to your players. Anyway, this is how I do it on my game right now.

    Or you can do it like Legaia style where you combo different "Attacks" to perform some kind of "skill". On Ace it's easily doable via a Yanfly script.
     
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  4. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    One thing I did in my game was I made a few monsters that are weak to attack. For example, skeletons take 4x damage from bashing and blunt weapons so physically attacking them is a good way to get an instant kill, or at least significantly weaken them. And late game I mixed in a few monsters with very low DEF so that using attack on them is the ideal way to defeat them.
     
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  5. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    Like theo, I make TP a requirement for my skills (but also MP, and I changed the name TP for Souls), which is a limited resource. The only way to regain TP in my game is to use the attack command and successfully doing the action command.

    Also, I added some abilities that make the hero recover some HP and/or MP if he successfully clear the action command when doing a normal attack.
     
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  6. Basileus

    Basileus Veteran Veteran

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    @bgillisp Making monsters weak to physical attacks can work. The Persona games do this pretty well since targeting an enemy's weakness triggers a knockdown effect that makes the enemy lose a turn so there is a strong incentive to use basic attacks to check weaknesses and maybe end a fight early for no cost.

    Dragon Quest is also a bit interesting with basic attacks. Unlike most RPGs magic doesn't actually out-scale physical damage since spells deal fixed damage (slightly modified by stats) and there are few sources of magic damage increasing effects, but there are multiple ways to increase physical damage which stack and let the player do massive damage. This generally means that in boss fights it's better to use your MP on spells/skills that lower enemy defense, increase party attack, increase critical chance, etc. to buff up one or two attackers while the spellcasters buff/debuff and keep everyone alive. Magic is still good for clearing waves of monsters easily but for tougher fights it's all about boosting the damage of your heavy-hitter's basic attack. I feel like this works fairly well since there are lots of spell effects that you want to have active so your spellcasters almost always have more things you want to cast than you have turns for so there is a lot to do just getting (and keeping) your party set up while stopping what the boss is doing. Having the attackers just using the basic attack also isn't much of a problem in the newer games since they added attack skills that have low-ish cost and nice effects like hitting multiple times or adding status effects.

    It's not a turn-based game but I also really love how Dark Souls handles attacks. You have 2 basic attacks - a light attack and a heavy attack. Each weapon type has different attacks, so a spear would have a forward thrust as the light attack while a sword might have a downward swing or a sideways slash. But each individual weapon also has different attack animations so weapons aren't just stat-sticks and sometimes it is better to keep using a weapon you already have because the attacks work better for your play style. For example, a light spear can have a forward thrust and a downward smash that both hit a straight line in front of you, but a halberd may have a forward thrust and a sideways sweep that hits in a wide arc. If you are going into a dungeon with narrow corridors you'd want the light spear so you can hit the enemies funneled in front of you without hitting the walls. But if you are going into a wide open area then the halberd with the sweeping attack for area control would be better. The ability to have weapons change how you attack gives a lot of room for customization and a weapon upgrade system helps let the player keep using the weapons they like instead of just the newest one with the highest stats.

    It might be a bit tough, but I have been able to make something like the Dark Souls version in RPG Maker. You can modify the properties of the attack triggered by the basic "Fight"/"Attack" command and even switch it out for a different skill when the player changes weapons. Giving the player multiple options for cheap/free physical damage, and changing the properties of the attack to fit the weapon they are using should make basic attacks a lot less boring.
     
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  7. NinjaKittyProductions

    NinjaKittyProductions Professional Murder Hobos Veteran

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    For one of my projects, I took into consideration Yanfly's How to make guarding more fun and decided to go with:
    Guard - heals 10% HP
    Attack - restores 10% MP

    Therefore, my skills cost quite a bit and then you have to attack to build up your resources to use skills again.
     
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  8. Saboera

    Saboera Veteran Veteran

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    Removing it entirely is a consideration and probably what I would do personally. The attack command is like a relic of the old school systems, just like random encounters, there's nothing interesting about it. You could also replace it with something that replenishes resources instead or, alternatively, you could have everyone with their own flavor or twist on it.
     
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  9. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Speaking of attack, I just remembered one game, Granblue Fantasy.
    In that game, Attack is something you couldn't avoid. And the funny thing about that game is it doesn't have guard command. Just attack.

    The phase goes like this.
    > Preparation phase, where you can instantly cast a skill. You choose what skill to use. Is it nuke? buff? debuff? or defensive skill?
    > Attack phase. You click attack, so all party members will do attack. The attack order is based on how you sort the party member.
    > Enemy phase. After you attacked the enemy, during this phase enemy will attack back.
    > Back to preparation phase.

    Now to think about it. I kinda want to try such design.
     
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  10. kovak

    kovak Silverguard Veteran

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    As @Basileus mentioned Dark Souls, which i've found as my solution as well, i'd recommend to remove the attack command entirely.
    On this case every weapon has a attack pattern and its own skill menu, most of those skills has effects unless it's not what you need and they may cost nothing and depending on its design few of them can be cast instantly like a 2-Handed Stance to increase weapon damage wile ignoring the shield item benefits.
    Taking this approach leads us to the fact that every skill is useful on its own and therefore must have a cost. This cost can be represented in different ways but also tells a lot about how combat must be approached, that those rules must be applied to enemies and how comsumable items are affected by it as well.
    • Damage is equivalent of a regular attack though those skills still has effects "minor" effects
    • Have cooldowns to prevent spamming
    • Have limited usage like in Pok√©mon games, how you recover those charges is up to you
    • Have tradeoffs that lasts for 1~2 turns because of its effects
    • Cost TP and TP is handled as Stamina from the Souls series
    • Cost MP but they are cheaper than magic, mages have limited access to those skills
    • Cost HP and its cost scales through the game
     
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  11. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I'd argue that a simple attack command has its own merit by being a simple command to damage the enemy. Not many choices how to damage the enemy, just click attack and it works.

    Removing the attack command and replace it with many choices of skills/actions to damage enemy could confuse your players on how things work. Especially if they simply want to damage the enemy and don't have the idea what action that the most appropriate to pick based on the situation. "What if I choose action A? or should I choose action B instead?"

    Personally, I'd keep the attack command for a sake of simplicity. And another action/skills if they want to spice up things.
     
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  12. zacheatscrackers

    zacheatscrackers Machinehead Veteran

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    Action commands (such as SRD's Timed Attacks for MV) can do a lot to add depth and variety to the typical default Attack. Don't know if there are equivalents for the earlier RPGMs, but for MV, it's a perfect choice for spicing up a rather rudimentary battle system. It's what I'm using for my current project, and it's working fabulously.

    There are also a variety of different plugins out there by Yanfly/others (and even one that comes with MV by default, I believe) that can change the skill that the default Attack uses via notetags. Another good way to add flavor to the bare-bones Attack feature, I feel.

    If you'd prefer not to use plugins for that type of thing at all, of course, then perhaps create different types of enemies, where just spamming regular attacks isn't a guaranteed win, and it's better to use a certain spell or skill. Maybe make a spell that can enhance your regular attack via state/item/whatever, such as buffing the critical rate or something like that. You can also make a party member attack twice pretty easily with the same methods; it can all dramatically affect the outcome and difficulty of battles.
     
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  13. Sixth

    Sixth Veteran Veteran

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    Isn't that a normal thing?
    If you don't know how something works, you must learn it first to make logical actions on it/reactions to it.
    If people don't know that the opponent is weak to fire, for example, why would they choose fire based skills? They don't know it yet, but if they keep playing, they will get to know, and when that happens, they will use fire based skills against that enemy.

    I find the "Attack" command so important that I removed it from my latest (never to be completed, I guess -.-) project. Same with the "Guard" command.
    I gave each actor 4 skill slots, and the player equips whatever he wants there. There are both offensive and defensive skills, so it's really up to the player to take a "Guard" like command into the battle or not.

    I highly doubt that there is anyone using the "Attack" command less than 89% of the times in regular turn-based/ATB-based RPGs for reasons already mentioned.
    Well, there is one other major reason why to use it instead of skills... Skills usually take more time to execute, their animation is way longer than the simple "Attack" animation. For me, that is the most important factor here. If I can kill an enemy in 3 seconds, why would I waste my time doing the same in 15 seconds?
     
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  14. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    It's more into the psychological aspect. Having an attack command outside the skill command box tells the player "If you simply want to attack the enemy without thinking much, just use this".
     
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  15. Sixth

    Sixth Veteran Veteran

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    And than they meet an enemy that resists the "Attack" skill. :D
     
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  16. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    In well-designed Action Battle Systems, you get an interesting trade-off using the attack skill (for melee weapons). In exchange for needing to move in close and put yourself in the most danger, you can damage the enemy without expending the resources you need for skills. Often these basic attacks also briefly stagger the enemy, so if you do it right, you can kill enemies without losing mana/energy or health, making basic melee attacks one of the best ways to check the player's skill. Spending the resources for skills, on the other hand, will usually let you deal damage from a much greater distance, disable/knockback the enemy more, deal damage to more enemies at once (important in large mobs, where you can't stagger them all at once with basics), or save you from mistakes by providing extra maneuverability. It becomes a really fun and interesting balance, and if the numbers and the physical mechanics are designed well, the player will see a clear and present need to use both normal attacks and skills.

    Taking this back to turn-based battle systems, you have fewer levers to work with as the designer, so you really have to make them count. You still have the turn, the resource (usually MP/TP), action speed, and any other mechanics you've chosen to add to combat - for example, if you've designed a "combo" system into your game where a character deals more damage to an enemy the more he hits that particular enemy, the basic attacks could be used at the start of combat to increase a character's combo count and lead into using powerful skills later on for big damage. Maybe the basic attacks will specifically increase the combo count even more than skills will. Or maybe you've changed around the Guard system so that Guards will reduce damage by 95% but only for the first hit the battler takes - the basic attack could be used to break a Guard to set an ally up for a big hit. Cooldowns are a mechanic that are often used; the basic Attack can stand in as a useful tool when your ideal Skills are on cooldown.

    Even without any additional mechanics, the basic Attack can find a balanced and at least somewhat interesting use in a well-designed combat system by virtue of being weak but "free". If you look at the basic Attack as if it were a 0 MP skill, and use a damage formula that's consistent with your other damage skills, it becomes simply one choice along a continuum from cheap skills with lower damage and little utility, to expensive skills with extreme damage or gamebreaking utility. And you, as the designer, can balance your other skills around the basic attack: whatever resources a character needs to spend for a skill should be approximately justified by the extra damage/utility they get from that skill. The player needs to decide, each turn, whether it's worth spending big resources for more effective skills, and there will be some turns where the free basic attack makes more sense. This nestles it comfortably into the larger flow of combat without being something the players will necessarily use a majority of the time nor entirely ignore.

    While this is sadly a realistic scenario in a lot of RPGs, that's a result of poor design moreso than it's a necessary factor of RPG combat. It occasionally results from the basic Attack actually being more powerful/effective than Skills, but much more often it results from mistakes being too inconsequential: the Attack is less powerful and subjects the characters to more retaliation from enemies, but those mistakes are so easy to erase (cheap Healing skills, cheap Consumables, extremely low enemy damage output, etc.) that it's not worth the player's time to figure out efficient ways to take down foes (or even to navigate three layers of menu to choose the Skill).

    I feel like any well-designed RPG will present enough of a challenge (whether it's kill threat within combat, or the threat of running out of resources over an entire dungeon run) that players have an incentive to spend a few seconds thinking about how they want to approach any individual combat.

    Something that I've been playing around with lately, and plan to use for my next game, is to "disguise" the basic Attack as a Skill that appears on the Skills menu, costs nothing to use and is available (perhaps with a different name/animation) to all characters at Level 1, alongside a few other Skills that are specific to the character.

    I feel like this will make the basic attack stand out less, and possibly break some of the prejudices that players normally carry about when to use basic attacks. It also cleans up the Actions menu slightly, allowing me to list Skills first so players don't need to take any extra effort to reach it.
     
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  17. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    Now I'm kinda interested in translating "light attack" and "heavy attack" into turn-based rpg, lol.

    I thought about this way too for something in similar concept like an ammo-like attack. The problem with building up TP-like point by using attack to use skill is that it can take times to build it up so there will be to either make it a norm to have a more fast-paced mindless normal encounter but have some slower strategic boss fight or have a normal encounter last longer in general. Another way to do is probably to have ability to do multiple action in a turn so you can stack normal attack in a batch.


    The idea of taking free normal attack out completely is something I think could work for a more strategic combat where each skill is more like a puzzle piece in a problem.


    One of my thought when I was making this thread is replacing Attack with another skill. And the last paragraph where you said to break prejudice or some norm player have on normal attack is also one of the reasons I decided to make this thread.


    One fun idea that came up to me from reading all these posts is to make each character's basic attack different and have small list of skill to use. A warrior's attack might scale up with increased TP and when TP is at max, attack command is locked so you need released with skills. A shooter's attack might cost TP in ammo-like situation and have skill to replenish ammo with some buffs that scale with how empty your TP-ammo is. A healer might actually heal with each attack instead of dealing damage like a "healing element" that everyone absorb. A mage's attack might be an AoE on. Is there a merit to this or would this over-complicate things?
     
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  18. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    The best way I could think of to do this would be to give the heavy attacks higher damage but a lower action speed, and have a mechanic where characters can be "staggered" and miss the rest of their turn if they haven't already acted. For example, some very high-level spells (perhaps with somewhat low Action Speeds, but still higher than Heavy Attacks) could stagger foes, and maybe any Critical Hit would also cause the target to stagger.

    That would create an interesting risk-reward mechanic between attacking quickly for a light but reliable amount of damage, versus using heavy attacks at the end of the turn for heavier damage which is far from guaranteed. If the player has some modicum of control (even if it's through building certain stats) over the chance of Critical Hits occuring, it feels a lot fairer than a purely RNG-based hit/miss system for heavy attacks, too.
     
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  19. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    It comes down to TP recovery balance. In my case, I used to try that the TP recovery only from attack and getting damage. But that wasn't enough to speed up the battle. And battle tend to be longer because I might be using attack three times or more before I could get into using the skills which were boring. What I did is, to make the TP recovery rate is like --> Attack --> Recover TP enough that the skills are available --> You use the skill --> TP depleted --> use attack. (one attack / one usable skill to use). I ended up making a passive TP recovery per turn too.

    This again brought back to the game I mentioned above, Granblue Fantasy.
    In that game, it has an overdrive mechanic. Where you have OD bar gauged up as you use an attack and getting damaged. When it builds up to 100%, the normal attack automatically becomes an ultimate skill. Unleashing like, iirc 450% damage. So the game was designed around attack command and make you build up the OD bar to speed up things. You have an option to toggle the attack command not to unleash the ultimate attack to save it for later though.

    You might be missed my point. It isn't about the enemy that resist a normal attack. It's about a simplicity to attack the enemy. At least, the player might be simply thinking "I'm just gonna do attack". Realized that the enemy is resisting the skill, "Oh so I have to use a skill". It might be different if you have, say, three different actions for an attack. "Now what should I choose out all of those three?"
     
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  20. Seirein

    Seirein Veteran Veteran

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    The last thing game designers should want to do is take inspiration from Dark Souls.

    The Attack command is there when you want to inflict simple damage. It's a simple straightforward command for when a simple straightforward command is needed. How to make it fun? Make it so that you're not always using Attack. That's all you need.

    Complexity does not innately equal quality.
     
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