How would you like to gain skills in a 5-9 hours RPG Maker game?

How would you like to gain skills in a 5-9 hours RPG Maker game? (Can select multiple choices).


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atoms

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Let's define it as longer than a short game but less than a medium length RPG.

What are your thoughts? You can select more than one, but please share your combination in the discussion.

Thanks. :)
 

Eschaton

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Whatever gives the player a sense of progression while staying true to your design philosophy.
 

Olra

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I prefer level up for the unique moves, but I have these "tomes" that teach the user any element moves. I'm not sure where to place them though. Probably either through quests or finding them within the maps- I haven't figured it out yet.
 

Aesica

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Ha, I checked all of the options here because I plan on using all of them in my project in some form or another:
  • Each character has about 2-3 "core" skills that they'll learn either initially or after a few levels. These are mainly skills that the player could find themselves stuck in the game if they skip, such as a heal spell on an intended healer or taunt on an intended tank.
  • While I'm not using any class change systems, I do have job points. As characters level up, they'll gain a few job points which they can use to acquire abilities they want. This is meant as a choice-friendly variant to static skill acquisition upon level up.
  • Some skills (mainly magic) can be bought in shops while the good stuff can be found by progressing (main quest, side quest, hidden areas, etc)
  • Equipping a weapon or shield grants the player 1-3 temporary abilities themed around that item. A holy sword might grant the player skills themed around holy damage and possibly minor healing, while a fire shield might grant the player an ability to boost the fire resistance of the entire party. Still undecided if I want this to just change the functionality of Attack and Guard, or if I want to add custom skill categories with similar names to take the place of Attack and Guard.
 

TheoAllen

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Eh it doesn't matter. Personally though, I kinda hate when getting skill need to be done by searching map. Either side quest, exploration, treasure chest, or the likes. Especially when that required to pass the boss. Getting a skill after reaching a certain point of a game is fine though.

I prefer the skill organizing is placed in convenient menu. So whether you use Job point, skill tree, standard leveling method, or skill shop doesn't matter. Gear equip is also fine. It just about how you want to present your game and which one that suit your need / your story.
 
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NinjaKittyProductions

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I've always enjoyed RPGs that either let you use skills that you obtain because you are wearing a piece of gear (armor/weapon/etc.) or these same pieces of gear teach you the skill after you wear them for a certain amount of battles.
 

Wavelength

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Voted 'Other', because I think that "any of the above" could be good in a game of this length. Mostly, it depends on what Dynamics you want the player to enjoy while playing your game, as well as how the skills might support other Mechanics in your game.

For example: in one game, a Dynamic that I really wanted to achieve was Replayability (being able to experience the game in a new way each time you play). For this reason, I needed a system that would allow, and encourage, the player to have a different set of skills on each play through my game.

In this same game, a second Dynamic I wanted to achieve was Improvisation (presenting different, unpredictable situations, and asking the player to come up with strategies to handle each one). One Mechanic that I used to support this Dynamic was giving the player random equipment (within a strict range of power levels and types) after each boss battle. In order to play well with the random loot mechanic, and support the player's ability to Improvise, I needed a system that would give the player a choice of which skills they learn (as some skills might be better with the stats and effects provided by one piece of equipment, while some skills might be better with a different equip).

So, based on these needs, I designed a system where, after you find out what loot you earned for defeating a boss, you can choose between one of three different skills to learn for each character. The other two skills are gone "forever" (until you start a new game), and you'll be given a choice of three new skills for each character after the next boss. The player can experiment with different sets of skills on each playthrough, and will afford themselves a slight advantage if they pick skills that happen to combo well with the randomized loot that they've earned so far.

This system works great for this one game, where the Dynamics that are important are Replayability and Improvisation. Where other dynamics are important, different systems for learning skills should be utilized or invented. In a game where Physical Exploration is an important dynamic, you might offer new skills in landmarks or hidden areas on maps. In a game where Character Expression is important, job points could be an appropriate method for learning skills (as part of a larger flexible class system). In a game where Strategy, Planning, and Mechanical Exploration are important, Skill Shops where you can eventually buy all of the skills might be appropriate. In a game where tight combat balance contributes to the experience more than these other dynamics, the skills might simply be given to the player at fixed points during the game.

There's no one system that will work for every game (or even every game of a certain length). It's all about what Dynamics of play you want to achieve. That's the single ironclad rule for designing good systems. :)
 

Eschaton

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I feel like, lately, that a lot of over-complicated character development systems are made such that the player is gently encouraged to use an

OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDE

to get through the game. Which is usually just as costly as the game. Don't be like AAA developers. Gaining skills on level up is just fine.
 

Wavelength

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I feel like, lately, that a lot of over-complicated character development systems are made such that the player is gently encouraged to use an

OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDE

to get through the game. Which is usually just as costly as the game. Don't be like AAA developers. Gaining skills on level up is just fine.
They still make OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDEs?!?! :o
 

MMMm

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Is the game open world? In that case, all of the skills are available from the start, but they're dropped by bosses and strong NPCs who the player has to challenge and defeat in a fight. The skill or ability you get is related to the battle you just fought.
 

Aesica

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They still make OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDEs?!?! :o
Of course they do. There's even a few RM games on steam with buyable OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDEs. I'd list them, but I don't feel like unintentionally calling anyone out, so I'll just leave it at that.

That said, there's lots of other poor design choices that can result in a guide dang it scenario besides choice-based skill selection. I'd say that, for skill selection, this is only a problem if skill selection is based on permanent choices where you can't "get all the things." When developers go down that route, there's always the "best choice" followed by a few "good choices" and a bunch of "lol you broke your character, time to restart" choices.
 

Autofire

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I'm not actually going to be pick any of these options, because they're all correct! ...Alright, that's a cop out. However, I'll have to agree with some of the other posters here and say that it largely depends on the game.

I feel like this question puts you in the wrong state of mind, though. I think a better question is: "How many skills are optional," and "How much agency do I want to give the player?"

Let's say the final boss has a status ailment that can totally shut down certain characters. You're going to cure that status ailment, one way or another. If you decide to make a skill that can cure this status, this skill isn't optional. Maybe you'll want to make this skill something a character (or two) starts with, but I wouldn't throw it into a list of skills to choose from. Otherwise, the player might miss it and screw themselves over later. You could create an item that cures this status, but then what happens if the player runs out?

But if you want to give players more choice, you could provide many skills to choose from, all that cure this status ailment but also have effects on the side. One might make the target immune to that status for a few turns, while another might restore some HP. In this case, you'd want to provide it as an upgrade to the base skill, or make any one of the curing skills mandatory. (But not all of them.)

It also depends on how you're writing your characters. In my most recent project, the player has effectively no choice in the character's skill sets. (This game takes 1-2 hours to complete, mind you.) I did this mostly because the characters have very clear roles, and their roles also go with their out-of-battle characteristics.

For example, I wanted to experiment with a healer who couldn't do damage in battle. When I found that this design was interesting from a gameplay perspective, I decided to write this character as a pacifist who hated violence. It wouldn't make sense if the player could give him a damaging skill, or even a buffing skill that boosts attack power.

However, part of my reasoning for this was that the battle system is meant to provide a variety of interesting choices. Hopefully, this will be enough agency over the 1-2 hour playtime that it will make up for not being able to seriously customize the characters.
 

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