If you have many, many party members, how do you encourage players to try some of them?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by atoms, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    United Kingdom, England
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    So let's say you have 10, 15, or even more party members.

    Let's say only 3-4 are in battle at a time too, but to keep this broad yes let's say 5 can or even 6 characters can be in the battle at once.

    Still though, even then, there are many more side-party members. So, in any of those circumstances or similar ones, how would you encourage players to play as some of the others?

    My thoughts are...

    1. Making a multi-story game. So the party splits into different characters, then try and combined them together later. I think that method has been used a lot and works really well.

    My other thought is...

    2. If you have a dungeon crawler then make different characters have different strengths and weaknesses , so it's useful to play as different ones in different dungeons against different enemies. In that case though, I'd always recommend letting players know everything near the beginning and still slowly add the characters into the party every first few dungeons. Just because it can be easily complicated, because in the first example players quickly can adjust to each character before they're added in a better paced manner, or, that's just what I think based on my current knowledge.

    Even though this seems good, it's the only two ideas I can think of at the moment, and, I'm sure other people here can comment on there thoughts with these ideas or there own.

    I was wondering if anyone else had any other ideas or thoughts about this? Or wants to add something with one, or both, of the first two ideas?

    I'm certain I even posted in a thread close to this one a while back, but I can't find it any longer so I thought a new discussion would be ok and interesting.
     
    #1
    VitaliaDi, Wavelength and Finnuval like this.
  2. Ryisunique

    Ryisunique Detective, AUEI Veteran

    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    573
    Location:
    USA, Mid-ugh
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I'd think 2 in combination with a third.

    You have to have a certain party member with a certain skill to get pass places. Oh you don't like INSERT HERE? Well they're the only ones with the ability to remove dark spells that block pathways. You need them. That might annoy people though.

    What about mandatory rest periods? Like if they get used twice in a row, or if they get injured to 40% health, they're left at the Inn, while you pick out more members.
     
    #2
    Wavelength, Finnuval and atoms like this.
  3. Animebryan

    Animebryan Feels like I'm slowly dying! Veteran

    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    156
    Location:
    Marysville, CA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    One idea is to have side-quests that require each character. FF4 had trials for each character to acquire high tier/ultimate gear for each member. The idea of giving each character some ability that can open new areas works well too. Also, while not every player is a completionist, completionists will definitely utilize every character if they are required for exclusive side-quests & cutscenes. It all boils down to giving the player an incentive to use each & every character and maintaining a balance between them all so that some don't feel too OP to use more than others.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    #3
  4. Restart

    Restart Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    235
    Likes Received:
    156
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I think the first question you have to ask is why you're including these party members in the game to begin with. Once you establish that, it's easier to tie it into player motivations.
     
    #4
    Shake0615, Basileus, atoms and 3 others like this.
  5. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    806
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I like strategic battles, so my approach is more in line with #2, although #1 is certainly good as well. For example:

    First, you head to the Obligatory Ice Cave, full of ice elemental monsters that also deal heavy physical damage. You'll want people with fire-based attacks, party-wide ice resistance buffs, and a physical tank.

    Next, you visit the Token Volcano, where things deal fire damage and mostly magic with lots of nasty status ailments. You might have to switch some people out from the ice cave to have somebody who can apply resist fire to the party, remove/block the appropriate status ailments, tank the magic damage, etc.

    Now I'm not saying, "make Dick a fire mage and Jane the ice warrior" because single-element characters always struck me as lazy design. But if Dick is a mage with fire, lightning, earth, and wind spells, and none of those are useful in the volcano, he's probably better off being benched for the Token Volcano, even if he was an all-star in the Obligatory Ice Cave.

    - - -

    Now here's a relatively-unused third option: Cooldowns. Provided your battle system allows it (and it should if you go this route) the player will likely be switching members in and out every few rounds so they can get the most out of their best damage-dealing cooldowns, or partywide heal/ailment removal cooldowns.
     
    #5
    M.I.A., atoms, Finnuval and 1 other person like this.
  6. Poryg

    Poryg Dark Lord of the Castle of Javascreeps Veteran

    Messages:
    3,985
    Likes Received:
    10,077
    Location:
    Czech Republic
    First Language:
    Czech
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Permadeath or some sort of temporary incapacitation can be an option too.
     
    #6
    kaukusaki, atoms and Finnuval like this.
  7. Finnuval

    Finnuval World (his)story builder and barrel of ideas Veteran

    Messages:
    1,345
    Likes Received:
    3,952
    First Language:
    Dutch
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I would say : All of the above as long as it fits the story of your game and never (try to at least) have a character just to fill the ranks. Also have different characters actually be different and not just another face with the same skills.

    That's my two cents anyway
     
    #7
    atoms and Animebryan like this.
  8. Johnboy

    Johnboy Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    325
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    Canadia
    First Language:
    English
    I'll just say that for players that aren't completionists, there's likely no way you're going to get them to play any characters other than the few they identify with or like for some specific reason. In my personal experience, Final Fantasy 6 had several extra characters and even to this day, I only play maybe 6 or 7 of them through the whole game because I either A: don't care for the character or their skills, B: their side stories are just not appealing to me or C: there's just not enough back story/story for me to even care. Except for where I'm forced to play them, and even then I will just toss on the item that removes random encounters so I don't have to play them.

    If the characters are really interesting and have interesting/intriguing back story or story, I'll play them. But I have yet to find a game that I've ever said "I need to play all of these characters".

    I will say having a multiple story style game where all the stories converge into one at the end is a surefire way to get them to play all the characters. The idea of forcing specific characters on me for a dungeon crawl is very unappealing to me personally.
     
    #8
    atoms and Finnuval like this.
  9. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

    Messages:
    4,438
    Likes Received:
    5,029
    Location:
    Riftverse
    First Language:
    Indonesian
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Make it a party building, like you have 15 characters, you sortie for 4 characters to enter a dungeon. They have a sort of exhaustion meter, that if they hit the limit, they will either get debuff or just you can't use it. Forcing you to switch to other party members.

    Personally, I don't like the party building to be like jigsaw puzzle meta where you need to exactly need ABCD party combination to pass a dungeon. Granted, the most effective tactic will still present in any kind of design, but I like it if a meme team can do a job too.
     
    #9
    kaukusaki and atoms like this.
  10. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,272
    Likes Received:
    12,498
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I did it Persona style where everyone has an element of magic they are strong to and weak to, and you will want to use certain people to exploit monster weaknesses for bonus damage. Since my game has 8 elements and 11 characters, there isn't much double up in terms of repeat elements either.
     
    #10
  11. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    326
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    Rewarding the player for trying out new characters is far better than punishing them for not or forcing them to, imo.

    I think this is the most important part to me. I might like all 20 characters I made. I know my players won't because that's basically impossible. Make each character unique, both personality and mechanics-wise, and players will be drawn to try out different builds.

    I like one thing Suikoden (2?) did where there is a massive cast, but changing characters is relatively painless (it takes roughly max four battles of the current dungeon to catch them up due to how exp works) and characters have mult-techs spread around many characters, making you want to see who works with your favorites and/or the new character(s). 128 characters and I still ended up using at least half of them throughout the game.

    Really, the problem with a huge cast isn't trying to get the player to play them all, but with actually make the huge cast. It's extremely easy to fall into "trope translations" with dialogue in a long rpg, where you have everyone say roughly the same thing in a given situation with a change to whatever "tick" or "dialect" they use. Every single character adds a ton of new dialogue and interplay exponentially. You can see this just by adding a fourth character to a roster.
     
    #11
    atoms likes this.
  12. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    806
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    If these were in reference to my previous post, then yeah I agree somewhat. I mean yeah, if you take the time to grind to max level, you should be able to use whoever you want. But if you're trying a low-level run, going up against optional hard content, or just playing through normally and want the easiest time, I think it's fine (and even good) for certain dungeons to encourage the use of certain characters over others to help break players out of their comfort zone.
     
    #12
    atoms and kirbwarrior like this.
  13. Super-User

    Super-User Villager Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    5
    First Language:
    Chinese
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVX
    it is a good idea to split into sub-groups in different maps and/or have multi-story lines.
     
    #13
    atoms likes this.
  14. TWings

    TWings The Dragon Whisperer Veteran

    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    632
    Location:
    Kyoto
    First Language:
    French
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    As others said, most ppeople will not bother with every single character, they'll just pick their favorites, unless the game forces them to do otherwise.
    One "easy" thing to do is to try to make every character appealing in some way (design, backstory, skills...). While it won't necessarily mean that every player will play every character, it will increase the chances of everyone choosing different teams compositions and have a "unique" experience.
    As for game mechanics, there are a lot of way of forcing the player outside of his favorite team : making some characters relevants in some parts of the game, having characters specific events... I've got one dungeon in my current project that forces to build 3 different teams in order to clear its puzzle. While it still gives some freedom to the player, it's also encouraging a wider character roster use as this part of the game allows for up to 12 characters.
     
    #14
    atoms likes this.
  15. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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

    Messages:
    14,640
    Likes Received:
    2,966
    Location:
    Philippines
    First Language:
    Tagalog
    Personally I dont use that idea in my games, but I have played many many games that have those.. Usually, what they do that makes me interested in trying out the different characters is that they make sure that each character has its own uniqueness. This is especially needed for games where you get new party members as you go on instead of having them all right at the start. Without them being unique, chances are your player will stick to the earlier characters because they are more used to them.

    I think one good way to incorporate aside from the uniqueness is to have segments in the game where you force them to use the new character. This way the player will get to know if that character is within their liking or not.

    For example, in the Trails of Cold Steel game, in the first chapters of the story, you go on field studies having different party set-up on each of those. Then at the latter part of the game, you can now use anyone that you like. Because you've already known how each character plays out, it makes it easier for the player to determine which characters to use for certain situations.
     
    #15
    kaukusaki and atoms like this.
  16. richter_h

    richter_h Eh? Sweetroll? Veteran

    Messages:
    586
    Likes Received:
    972
    Location:
    Leila's Tavern
    First Language:
    Indonesian
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    There are several ways that may be useful in certain scenarios, aside from yours:
    • Make several quests that require certain characters and/or forces some characters unavailable for certain scenes. Sounds forcing at first, but this is (in my experience) the easiest yet most challenging way to make use of large roster of characters. As far as I've experienced, Suikoden nailed this down pretty well and surprisingly fits with its storyline, which is a massive plus.
    • As a continuation of "multi-storyline" thing you've mentioned before, it would be nice to give this a try: make the outcome of the story varies based on who's in the party. This way, the story can be covered in several viewpoints, which may or may not support its headcanon. The downside is, you have to write down several versions of the same scene...
    • Create a basis "metagame" around characters; you can lay down some "synergy plans" among characters as well as some match-ups that may make the game easier for them, perhaps with or without costs. This one is something that players won't notice until they try it themselves, though, so a little hint may be required to give them a heads-up of such possibilities.
    • And finally, as a nod to previous posts, making each characters interesting in terms of looks, skillset, gimmicks, traits and/or characteristics helps a lot in compelling players to give them a try. This one requires you as a dev to introduce the characters in most natural ways possible, which may or may not be easy to pull off. Once it's done well, though, players will appreciate the characters despite their pros and cons they have.
    Well, that's my 2 cents about large roster. Currently, I'm working on not only 15 characters, but it's around 80 incl. the antagonists. Also, working on many entities may not be effective for every scenarios, so take my words with a grain of salt.
    Cheers~
     
    #16
    kaukusaki, atoms and Wavelength like this.
  17. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

    Messages:
    4,436
    Likes Received:
    3,714
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    There are two important issues here - getting players to try out each character, and getting players to frequently use each character. Not all games need to encourage both. And these issues apply not only to really large casts, but to any game with a cast of playable characters that is larger than the active battle party!

    Try Out Each Character
    Most games want to encourage players to at least try out each character, and that's easier said than done because players will often find and stick with a party that works well, rather than deal with the risk and extra learning of incorporating new party members into the mix. This is especially true in Action Battle Systems where characters might control and play very differently from each other (which is super-nifty, but presents a bigger barrier to learning new characters' kits).

    The most straightforward way to handle this - and usually the best in my opinion - is to simply force the character into the player's party for a little while after they join your party. This is usually when the character is in the spotlight story-wise, so it makes sense that they'd be part of the action. For one dungeon or so after the character joins, lock the character into the party (don't let the player remove them). The player will naturally learn and understand the character's basic battle style, and if they enjoy it, they will start using it from then on (and if not they'll remove the character as soon as the choice opens up). To compensate for the player's initial ignorance of the character's battle style, try to make dungeons and bosses with forced party members a little easier than normal.

    If your game (or story) doesn't suit well to forcing characters into the player's party, then consider having different "accomplishments" that are specific to each character (Harold might have ones like "Finish an enemy with Fireball" and "Dodge a lethal blow" - Harold must do these things to get credit, not another party member). Accomplishing these might give you rare in-game items, or Trophies/Gamerscore. This won't encourage everyone to try out each character, but it will encourage the many completionists to do so.

    Frequently Use Each Character
    Some, but definitely not all, games benefit from encouraging the player to frequently switch between characters. This rewards generalists (rather than players who specialize in a single character/playstyle), and also prevents things from getting stale. It also (lightly) forces players to play characters they just don't like as much, whether that's for gameplay reasons or story/character reasons, and there are games that will be less enjoyable for doing that. But if you feel confident your game will be more fun when players are frequently using different characters and parties, there are several different mechanics you can use to do it.

    A well-designed Elemental system can go a long way toward making each character rewarding to play. If each character only uses a single element, and each area is relatively predictable in the types of enemies it will throw at you, then there are characters that are better than normal for that area. For example, a Fire mage in a forest area. Maybe your fire mage isn't someone you would normally use, and maybe she's a little weaker than the rest of your party or you're not good with her skills, but when she's dealing double damage to nearly everything in sight, you'll likely still try her out (perhaps alongside one or two of your favorite characters).

    Rest periods, like @Ryisunique mentioned, can be effective, but they can also feel awkward or unfair, so it's best to keep a very light hand when using them as a designer. I find that a mandatory rest period tends to work best in a game where you have a limited number of in-game days to accomplish a goal (think Recettear or Harvest Moon). For example, I have a game where you can explore 1 dungeon (of your choice) each day, and after being used, a character needs 2 days rest before exploring another dungeon (so if the player wants to explore more dungeons tomorrow, he must choose different characters). In other games where you have unlimited time to do the things you want to do, I feel that using "well-rested" buffs for characters that have sat out of the last few battles is probably the best way to go. Straight-up forcing characters to sit out after 2 battles, for example, will break up the player's flow a lot, and will make the player feel like he's not allowed to use his favorite characters in the battles.

    Limiting the characters' resources (and allowing the player to switch between characters at any point during a dungeon) can be a very natural and immersive way to encourage switching between characters. In many RPGs, resources like HP and MP are very easily restored - but in some of the best RPGs, they actually feel limited. If each character only has enough gas in the tank to take out three or four enemies, there are no (or few) items to restore those resources, and the player can be expected to encounter 30 enemies in a dungeon, then the player is going to need to cycle between eight to ten different characters in order to complete the dungeon. It doesn't require anything artificial, it feels like teamwork, and it definitely gets the players to switch up the character they're using frequently. If it suits your game design, you can very slowly regenerate each character's resources while they're not active.

    Simply randomizing the party at the start of each standard encounter certainly does the job. (Some games do this only when touched from the back on the map by a monster, etc.)

    All of these should be backed up by a system that awards partial (or even full) Experience Points to party members that aren't participating in battle, so that characters don't fall so far behind that none of these mechanics can justify using the weak and underleveled characters.


    ===

    One other thing I wanted to bring up:
    Can I ask for a more full explanation of why you feel that Single-Element Characters are always (or even usually) lazy design, @Aesica?

    I'm surprised to hear that assertion, as I feel that Single-Element Characters are one of the handful of cases in which the Elements mechanic adds enough depth to justify its existence. Aside from encouraging a unique playstyle for each character (form follows function), assigning a single element to each character can be deliberately used to do one or more of these:
    • spread the party's targets (Dick targets the ice enemy and Jane targets the fire enemy, rather than everyone teaming up and using their ice spell on the fire enemy)
    • encourage the more frequent use of all characters (I'm going to need Dick in the forest area and I'm going to need Jane in the water dungeon)
    • set up scenarios where Dick will be the support for Jane in one battle (against enemies weak to ice) whereas Jane will play second-fiddle to Dick's damage in the next (against enemies weak to fire).
    All of these seem far less "lazy" design to me than "welp, looks like this enemy is weak to lightning, so everybody use your one lightning damage skill to damage it" (which significantly reduces the set of feasible moves for any given character at any given time to a very small number).
     
    #17
    kaukusaki, atoms and richter_h like this.
  18. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    20,926
    Likes Received:
    10,640
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    A large party is not a mechanic as such.

    I've moved this thread to General Discussion. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

     
    #18
    atoms likes this.
  19. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    806
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Fair request, and yeah I should've elaborated a bit but felt like I might be going too far off topic.

    To me, it depends on the overall design vision, actually. I know some games have it set up where every character has an innate element, and while not my favorite type of system, it works. What I'm referring to specifically is in more open-ended character designs where generally, characters have more than one element at their disposal and there's some overlap. Suddenly, Dick joins that party. "Oh, you can do fire attacks and maybe resist fire or ice? Great, but...what else can you do? Nothing? Oh..."

    I actually have a joke boss fight planned at some point to make fun of the single-element trope, where the "greatest fire mage of all time!" faces off against the party. With lots of fire resist gear equipped and a fire resist party buff active, the fight becomes intentionally trivialized. When defeated, he laments having focused only on a single element his whole life.

    A lot of games seem to fail the elemental implementation due to a lack of transparency. Having some way to view enemy weaknesses, either via trial/error revealing them on the battle screen, or by utilizing a scan/libra type spell means the difference between a guessing game and strategic combat.

    All of these can be accomplished with multiple element characters too. The key is to make sure that no single character has all of the elements at their disposal, and you definitely don't want all 4 party members capable of full elemental coverage. If you're facing off against the aforementioned lightning-vulnerable foes, all 4 characters shouldn't be able to just spam lightning attacks until it dies--I agree with that being totally lame. Perhaps only 2 have lightning attacks, so the other two do whatever they can to support the others: drawing attacks/tanking, debuffing foes, buffing the damage of the lightning users, applying resistances to mitigate, say, the incoming water damage, and so on.

    Then, when the next fight features enemies that absorb lightning, but are weak to ice, some or even all of the characters who were doing one thing in the last fight might have completely different roles in this one.
     
    #19
    atoms and Wavelength like this.
  20. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,272
    Likes Received:
    12,498
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    @Aesica : What you are talking about is more like when a game decides to make it only magic for the elements, which can cause problems. In fact, I feel like that was Persona's 5 weakness as with all of the elements they all felt the same in the end. I felt there was no difference between Agi vs Bufu vs Zio vs Garu vs Hama vs Mudo vs whatever Nuclear was called vs whatever Psi was called, as they all had pretty much the same skills. It went:

    Low damage single target
    Low damage hit all
    Medium Damage single target
    Medium Damage hit all
    High damage single target
    High damage hit all.

    Only exception I recall is for Hama and Mudo keeping their instant kill spells. So unless you were aiming for a weakness you could just decide did you want to kill them with Lightning or Fire or Wind today, as it made no difference unless you aimed for a weakness. In fact, to me it made the characters matter less due to the sheer number of elements and exact same skills for each in the end.

    As for how I handled the issue, I made it so that each character has a magic element and a class, and they can choose to learn skills in either of them. So you can have your Fire Mage focus on Thief skills instead, or you can have the Life Mage decide they would rather punch things hard.

    As for how to avoid each element being the same (or feeling the same), I had each specialize in something. For instance, Fire is the element that gets all of the AOE spells and focuses on heavy damage, whereas Earth uses Barriers to reduce the damage the party takes in battle. Now everyone skill has a damage skill so you can use the weakness, but in some cases that is not the strength of the magic. But the choice is yours.
     
    #20
    atoms likes this.

Share This Page