Keeping the gameplay fresh

SpicyNoodleStudios

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I've been thinking of ways to add more variety and freshness to the combat. My most recent idea is to do "intentional limitations" such as making rings that allow access to only a subset of magic techniques. For example, early game would have you choose between elemental rings so you can only have access to one element of magic at a time. When you advance, you can get a ring with two at a time, then three at a time.

That should make it so that the player can only use magic to target SOME enemy weaknesses, but still has to think of other strategies for enemies they don't have the weakness for.

What do you think?
 

MushroomCake28

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Not a bad idea, and it can work great if you implement it correctly, but personally I'm not a fan of this kind of mechanic. It's only a personal opinion and it doesn't mean you can't make it into something great though.

Although a good idea, I don't think it adds variety and freshness. The way you describe it sounds more like an upgrade system then a rotation system. I mean you get a single elemental ring, then you go to dual, than triple, etc. Besides, the other issue I think is that people will tend to stick to a single ring as much as possible (I know I hate going into the equip menu after every battle), and have different party member hold different ring.
 

kairi_key

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This remind me of materia system from ff7 or persona system from persona games.

One way this could be more complex is by having a jumbled ring that give some limited combination of a certain elements with some utility skills.

One idea I'd love to try is a puzzle-esque battle where you must perform actions in order. It's like normal turn-based battle, but you must find a way to trigger events in certain order to pass. It's like a battle mini-game from time to time.
 

Soryuju

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Honestly, it’s pretty difficult to give a decent assessment of a mechanic like this in a vacuum, but my first instinct is that this system doesn’t actually do much to make your gameplay more interesting. As you’ve laid things out, if your character has the correct element, you use it. If they don’t, you use whatever other skills make you deal the most damage while taking the least. And if you want to spend most of your time hitting elemental weaknesses in battle, then getting more elements for characters as you progress actually narrows the range of tactics you’ll use as you get further in the game, rather than expanding your viable options. If you want to use an element system as your game’s central combat mechanic, the fundamental depth of the system can’t stop at “deal more damage with X element against Y enemy.”

Look at Pokemon, where the depth of the type system comes not from the damage fluctuations of different weaknesses/resistances, but from switching Pokemon. Switching lets you give up a turn to rotate between different Pokemon which can better counter specific opposing Pokemon. The loss of the turn is a tactical trade off, and the player has to judge which of their other 5 Pokemon is best suited to dealing with the current opponent. The process of assembling a team which can cover each other’s weaknesses and counter a wide range of enemies creates depth and engagement, even though the elemental system driving it is just a matter of arithmetic.

Or look at the Persona games, where the most important aspect of striking elemental weaknesses is that it incapacitates the enemy and gives you an extra turn. The goal of most battles is to knock down all enemies as quickly as possible and then end the battle with the special action which this enables. Failing to do this will often mean taking a serious amount of damage from enemies, so figuring out the most efficient way to neutralize enemies is critical to success. Trying to make the SP that fuels elemental damage last throughout a dungeon requires prudent use of your skills, and occasionally some risk-taking.

I wholeheartedly agree that standard JRPG combat gets stale quickly without some extra spice in the mix, but when you’re brainstorming ideas, I don’t think it’s productive to go in with a general goal like “I need something that makes my combat feel fun/fresh/deep.” It’s too wide of a target, too vague to spark inspiration, and too focused on the end rather than the means.

Instead, you could start by thinking of a few of your favorite RPG combat systems. Think of one thing you especially liked about each one, and then also identify something that bothered you about each one. When you find one that’s especially interesting to you, start thinking of how you could redesign that system so as to amplify the good elements while attempting to mitigate the bad ones. Think about things like what factors in each combat system created each problem, and how changing those factors could fix those problems (or how it could create new ones - sometimes the flaws we personally identify in systems are actually the lesser of many evils).

Another method, if your game has a significant narrative focus, is to try to derive combat mechanics that reflect the atmosphere/setting of your game and/or the themes of your game’s narrative. For a simplistic example, say you were to make a game which is set in a grim, impoverished medieval fantasy kingdom, and your story were to revolve around the ideas of sacrifice, hope, war, and utilitarianism. In that case, maybe you would design combat mechanics which were in some way representative of that harsh world and the difficult choices the party must make to survive. And on the other hand, maybe it could lead you to exclude certain features such as healing immediately after combat or letting players carry around 99 of each consumable item. This method of brainstorming combat mechanics is a lot more abstract, and the ways you can go with it are limited only by your imagination. The downside is that sometimes it’s not always easy to translate atmosphere or narrative themes into combat mechanics which feel both natural and fun to interact with.

You can also combine the two methods I’ve described here - think about how your narrative could align thematically with combat mechanics from other games you’ve enjoyed, or think about what narrative ideas those combat ideas might suggest for your story. This is typically how I try to design my project’s combat - the narrative and the combat mechanics inform each other and grow together.

Sorry for the lack of specific advice, but hopefully some of what I wrote will give you ideas as you’re trying to find your direction. Good luck!
 

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My take is that you are probably thinking too small - missing the forest for the trees.

I've talked a ton about why I think most games are better off without elemental weak/resist mechanics; here's one post that largely summarizes my view, but if you do a search for posts with "elements" and "weaknesses" that were posted by me, you'll find tens of thousands of words that I've written on the matter. Long story short, this mechanic is only interesting where it creates interesting decisions and tactics.

In your case, while there may (or may not, depending on how much info the player has upfront) be an interesting decision of which rings to equip, it sounds like you are restricting more interesting options than you are gaining. After all, you say that when the player can't exploit an easy weakness, they have to "think of other strategies for enemies they don't have the weakness for". Isn't combat more fun when you have to think up interesting strategies? So as you give the player more rings, you may actually be taking away depth by offering access to specific elemental weaknesses that dominate other choices.

@Soryuju gave you some truly excellent advice about ways to get your creative juices flowing in terms of coming up with innovative mechanics that also lead to great gameplay.

Many good designers say combat should be like a puzzle - not a puzzle with a single solution that the designer came up with, but more like a problem-solving puzzle. An obstacle or mechanic is in your way - how do you use the tools you have to overcome it? This is a good mindset, but I take a different one: I design combat like a competitive sport. I try to design in ways to use your skill and strategy to outplay an "opponent" (this opponent might be the enemy combat troop, or it might be something more abstract like the entire dungeon's worth of monsters), rewarding particularly good moves and presenting a flow of combat where you are trying to reach a goal before your opponent (such as reducing HP to 0), rather than a flow where most of the player's turns are the same and their mistakes are punished. To this end, I try to engineer battles so that each one plays out differently (forcing the player to react to each situation, like they would have to in a competitive sport), and I design the game in ways that it's OK to lose a few battles along the way (ending an in-game day instead of throwing a Game Over for a loss, having very short distance between Save Points, etc.), which creates enough room to shatter the expectation that the player should win every battle.
 

SpicyNoodleStudios

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@MushroomCake28 If it makes a difference, the enemies will be advancing as well. They'll start gaining different types of resistances making a single element ring less attractive. 3 elements at a time would be the maximum and being able to get dual magic or triple magic ring won't be feasible until the player has advanced far enough.

@kairi_key Although I've played the FF game with it, I didn't even think of those rings. Some extra effects might be fun to tinker with. As for the puzzle battle, sounds interesting. The closest thing that I could do that would make sense in my game would be an interrogation battle. Maybe you can do something awesome with it? I'd love to see it!

@Soryuju I see what you mean. Hopefully I would craft the enemies well enough that they offset the expansion of elements for the player, such as gaining resistances as time goes on, making single element rings less feasible. I'm still pretty early in conceiving the combat design.

The problem of "always choose the highest damage skill" is one of the things I'm addressing by adding limitations. Enemies will have other abilities beyond resistances, such as being able to increase their dodge rates or being able to strengthen their resistance to typical types of damage, just doing things to make the player less confident in using their high damage abilities. Hopefully they'll choose more tactical abilities to offset enemy skills rather than spam the strongest one and get annoyed.

@Wavelength I consider the enemies intentions for combatting the player. The way I've set up the low key A.I. should be somewhat similar to a competition, though it would be more like a competition for your life.

The idea for increasing the elements on the rings is because stronger enemies are either naturally resistant to more things, or have been smart/experienced enough to prepare for more things. It would be like switching from normal to hard halfway through the game if I didn't add more elements, is how I saw things.
 
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MushroomCake28

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I agree with you. I might even be a good mechanic. My point is just that I don't see how it promotes variety and replay-ability. If replay-ability is what you're looking for perhaps a branch-system story would achieve that better.
 

Wavelength

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@Wavelength I consider the enemies intentions for combatting the player. The way I've set up the low key A.I. should be somewhat similar to a competition, though it would be more like a competition for your life.

The idea for increasing the elements on the rings is because stronger enemies are either naturally resistant to more things, or have been smart/experienced enough to prepare for more things. It would be like switching from normal to hard halfway through the game if I didn't add more elements, is how I saw things.
Is it possible you are cramping your design by making enemies resistant to more and more elements? If I can use Fire, Wind, and Ice (as my 3 elements from the rings I have equipped), and I run into an enemy that is resistant to Wind and Ice, what are my real options? My only feasible play is to use my Fire skill(s).

(And even if they aren't resistant to Wind or Ice - if they're very weak to Fire - perhaps a plant-based enemy - then do I have any reason to use anything but Fire?)

This is why I worry that any mechanic (such as Rings) tying into the larger elemental mechanic you're using might not be capable of keeping your game fresh. Because the larger mechanic itself is reducing the possibility space for "real" options in combat, therefore making the game more stale.

It's pretty advanced game design - even competent designers make the mistake of unnecessarily reducing live options - but if you really want fresh and interesting combat, you have to think over every assumption you make, and think over every mechanic you hold over from "standard RPGs".
 
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SpicyNoodleStudios

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@MushroomCake28 am not so worried about replayability. There are a lot of combat design principles I can't include due to my lack of programming abilities (but I'm not trying to show off any programming skills... I do not want to be a programmer) such as conditional attacks (If enemy is slowed then allow access to freeze ability, etc etc). As for variety, I know a lot of players like to choose the highest damage skill and spam it. Therefore my thought process is, make this option only feasible in some situations or make it a risk and then they'll have to get smart when choosing what they'll do instead. You could say "just remove that ability" but it's like in a shooter where headshots get extra damage, to make a player have to get smart about how to attack an enemy, add some head protections/extra resistances to the head.

It's a lot like what Wavelength was saying about "outplaying." By having the enemy try to outplay the player (stronger enemies are more prepared etc) it should increase the variety by having the players think up new ways to outplay/defeat the enemy as quickly as possible.


@Wavelength I see what you're saying, I think you'd be right if magic were the only options. What I was envisioning was, say you have those three elements and you have that enemy resistant to wind and ice, but not specifically weak to fire. That puts the extra element on the same level as all of the other non-magical abilities. So by restricting the best choices, the player has more choices and has to think more. But it will still feel good to find an enemy weak to one of those elements and be like, "fudge yeah, finally I can smoke this fool hella easy." or "Oh, I know what to do here!"

I plan on having more options for the player. You know, some boosting abilities, some reduction abilities, some multiple hit, status effects, combat items, etc etc. So in this case it should serve to make the combat more alive than stale. I would say the larger mechanic at play is to "protect the goal" in terms of sports I guess.

edit: I think one of the coolest things about video games is that, as long as it's well made, multiple design philosophies can create fun games!

edit edit: It's funny how some groups have a lot of hate for rpg maker games but these forums have held some of my best design discussions like ever
 

Seacliff

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Don't rely on it all the way, but try creating a larger variety of states, preferably ones that encourage the players to engage in the opportunity cost of taking a turn to heal or not healing, and would change how the player approaches combat when inflicted.

It could be simple stuff like Double MP cost, Stunting Recovery Spells, ect.

Really have a wide and focused variety of skill effects (actually variety of effects, not Fire 1, Fire 2, Fire 3, etc.) for both the player and the enemy should be enough to make even the most vanilla battle system interesting.
 

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If your increasing evasion rates, i'd suggest doing what i did in my MV trial project. Certain enemies when they're hit by a ranged attack (i achived this by making it a magical attack) increase there magic evasion to 100%. While other enemies can cause there counter attack rate to go up after being hit with a melee attack (physical attack) but NEVER both

You could also design your skills were they're flexible, and have a couple different effect. That way, they're each useful in multipule situations. But don't make it so players have to use certain skills against certain enemies, rather design them in ways that let the player improvise
 

CraneSoft

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IMO Limiting options especially elemental skill use doesn't really keep a gameplay "fresh" per se. Different enemies have different resistances and weaknesses - so the typical solution is just swapping the right ring for the right situation, or simply make a rainbow-esque party that are prepared against any enemy. Rinse and repeat. Players will still want to use skills that is the most effective or does the most damage, it doesn't really add anything other than making them harder to pull off.

What you CAN limit however, are healing options so players have to actually think when's the best time to heal rather than attack, the circumstances will always be different depending on the threat level of the enemy.

Other than that, the best way to keep gameplay fresh is constantly changing the rules of combat that will render previous strategies impractical - sealing certain commands in a certain dungeons, diverse enemy behavior that changes based on your tactics, enemies that simply had no weaknesses/resistances, or other unique mechanics that can provide more advantage than simply high damage numbers.
 
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Oddball

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diverse enemy behavior that changes based on your tactics
You can achieve this by making all actor skills that target enemies inflict an invisible state that weres off after the enemies next action and using the state option in enemy behavior. I'd suggest making catergories so you don't end up with a hundered different enemy behavior states, and making the skills inflict two or more of the categories
 

Treynor

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I've always found that incentive is the key enhancer of the JRPG experience. I recommend manipulating how characters interact with the combat situation, rather than changing the combat itself. This also adds more dimension to the characters making them more than just a mage, warrior, etc. I've seen a lot of devs think that renaming the 'warrior' class to 'soldier' without really changing much is innovation. It's really not. They're both still people who hit with a sword/axe/whatever. To me, classes mean nothing unless they're substantially different. I'd be happy in a game with 3 fleshed out, and unique classes, rather than a game of 20 one dimensional classes.

Honestly, I'd also recommend self-limitations. Limitations breed creativity. You begin to question how you can use what you have to create something fun, and you end up creating something quite original and unique (hopefully). Let me give an example. I'm going to list three fantasy-era jobs off the top of my head:

Blacksmith
Cobbler
Waitress (I'm avoiding calling them wenches)

Ok. Those are your 'classes'. Now create a game around them.

Blacksmith? I think 'weapon repair' so perhaps this is a game where weapons degrade during battle, and a blacksmith can keep them functional, otherwise damage goes down a lot.

Cobbler? Maybe a ranged attacker that throws shoes. Comedy-Fantasy RPGs are a thing.

Waitress? Maybe she gets enemies drunk, so like a debuff. Or makes them confused, or fight each other over her. Kind of like 'charm' in Dragon Quest.

It's just a thought experiment. You can play with ideas like this all the time. I know this probably won't be TOO helpful for your current project since it sounds like you're already well on your way, but maybe for a future project.
 

SpicyNoodleStudios

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@Seacliff I think that's a good idea. More stuff = more likely for things to be fresh right? And effects specifically make combat interesting. It makes me think a lot about combat balance as well, but maybe I should start a new thread on that because that's a pretty large design topic in itself.

@Oddball That's a good idea too, having the enemies change their strategies based on how they are attacked. A lot of eventing though, ugh! Can't I just TELL the engine what I want to happen?!

@CraneSoft You are right. However, the game in question only features one playable character. I have built things around the idea of one soldier (like, with a gun) kind of going against the grain and doing some "detective work" though it's not really the same as being a detective. However, isn't limiting options the same as changing the rules of combat? It's like the enemies are sealing off certain techniques by having a resistance to it, right? By giving enemies different skills, isn't that the same as changing the rules of combat? Because, in one fight the enemy could have a high damage resistance by using an ability that raises their defense. So the fight becomes about lowering their defense or lowering their hopefully already low attack to gain the edge. And in the other, with the heightened chance to dodge, it becomes about finding a way to land an attack rather than trying to make them take more damage from the attack.

Also I think, "Players will still want to use skills that is the most effective or does the most damage, it doesn't really add anything other than making them harder to pull off.," is a good reason why limiting them is a good idea. Won't players ALWAYS try to use the skill they think is the most effective or does the most damage in literally every situation?

One worry with limiting healing options is that, doesn't that mean you also reduce your combat options overall, therefore reducing the variety and freshness? I don't want my players to be using the same two or three strategies repeatedly so that they can heal properly... I'm just worried because I've played some games where characters have limited attack options and although it creates good strategy, it also creates less strategies to choose from which reduces the freshness. I know I've built this thread on the idea of limiting options, but maybe it would have been better to say restricting options instead because I didn't intend to give the players less to choose from overall, but rather, create incentive to play with the other options instead of spamming the same thing over and over.

@Treynor I agree with a lot of what you have to say but I'm confused on what you mean by incentive. Can you give some examples?
 

Tai_MT

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You'll have to forgive me not really reading most of the posts here. A lot of it was how to make the "Rings" idea work or criticism on the "Rings".

I don't necessarily see that as a bad idea... but I think the way you would implement it (based on some of the replies) would make it fail in execution.

The main issue I see you having is relying very heavily on this sole mechanic to make your combat "fresh" and "interesting". The way it reads, it's execution is that of a "class change" system mixed with "Pokémon elemental weaknesses". It sounds interesting on paper, but I think executing it as the base concept is... well... boring.

Here's my take on it:

The "Rings" as a core mechanic will probably not work all that well. However, if it were part of a larger system where it was a tertiary aspect... it would probably work well.

You can't just change something small about combat to make it interesting. It just doesn't work that way. In an RPG, combat needs to serve a few functions (or, at the very least, be able to be slotted into specific roles of the game).
1. Power fantasy.
2. Strategic fights that reward clever thinking.
3. Lessons to teach the player with boss fights being gates to ensure the player has learned those lessons.
4. A different way of exploring the game.
5. Resource management.

So, if your goal with combat isn't something that fits into one of those, you're likely going to have problems keeping combat "fresh" and "interesting". Granted, there may be more than five goals with combat (those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head at 7:00 a.m. on a Friday where I'm exhausted and don't want to go to work), but those are good goals to start with.

So, what is the purpose of your combat? "Being fresh" isn't really a good goal. What does that mean? Fresh in what way? How? What do you want the player to be doing in combat? Experiencing? Do you even want the player to think combat is important at all, or just an aspect they can gloss over as it's not the main attraction?

Your combat needs to have a purpose in order to "be fresh" in any capacity. Once you've decided what it should do and be... then you make decisions like your Rings. Do your Rings help accomplish this goal? If so, how? If not, how could they?

I'll toot my own horn for a minute about how I designed my combat system (I'm going to keep details light, because it's the process that's important and not the systems themselves).

I started with the goal, "Players should be learning lessons from standard enemies, and the bosses should be the test of learning those concepts".

Simple enough. Lots of games use that goal. So, I had to tailor every single decision around reaching that goal.
1. Stats were less important than what players and enemies could do in combat. Combat should not be won by simply having more stats. This forced me to cut several ideas and create absolutely new ones on the fly.
--Leveling up does not reward stat points (this works double duty with another design goal, but that's not important to the post)
--Enemies rely heavily on gimmicks.
--States need to be more powerful to make them detrimental to players as well as useful to inflict on regular enemies.

2. Every choice in combat should matter so that players can learn even lessons that I am not specifically trying to teach.
--Removal of dedicated healer. Healing with MP is far too resource efficient and makes games typically "too easy" for my taste. Basically, mistakes don't matter that much if they are easily erased. Replaced the Dedicated Healer with single-target consumables (this also pulls double duty with another design goal, but that's not important).
--No overlap of player skills. Each player skill is unique in execution and effects. I may have two characters with "Fire" skills, but they work very differently and have far different effects.
--Player skills need to have some synergy with other characters. If you do X, you can do Y after it in order to be really clever and do something overpowered.
--Making skills more useful than hitting "Attack".

3. Every party composition should be able to tackle any enemy or boss, provided the player is clever enough.
--Equipment (weapons AND armor) matters more to gaining an edge in combat than gaining stat points does.
--Creation of 17 different elements to allow multiple parties access to something they can exploit.
--Creation of 3 different "attack types" to allow different parties to excel in different ways. Characters that rely on "Agility" to attack, will land hits against "Reflex" (renamed Luck) to deal damage. Etcetera. Attack, Speed, Magic are the main attacking stats while Defense, Reflex, and Magic Defense are the stats that defend against those hits.
--Much of the equipment is a "side grade" to existing tiers. It will need to be swapped out sometimes to cover weaknesses enemies can exploit or to exploit weaknesses enemies may have.
--Some equipment provides percentage reductions in certain damage types to decentralize stats a little more.

4. Combat needs to be a little more difficult than standard RPG's in order to promote strategic play.
--Enemies should die in four 4 actions if they are new to players, and 1 or 2 actions of they are known.
--Players should die in about 5 or 6 hits if they are not struck by Critical Hits or an Elemental Weakness.
--Players should spend actions on using consumables because not using them is more dangerous.
--Creation of "Revenge" system for Boss monsters who punish players that exploit obvious elemental weaknesses (throwing water on the Fire Elemental results in Revenge of the boss throwing Superheated Steam at your whole party for a decent chunk of damage) to promote players learning the weakness of every archetype instead of just a single weakness (it pulls triple duty with a few other design philosophies, but this was its intent at creation).
--Almost every skill in the game is single target. Truly powerful attacks will allow for multiple targets.
--Reduction of Currency rewarded in the game to promote strategic use of resources rather than buying 99 of everything as quickly as possible.
--Some states do not wear off on their own, unless battle ends.

5. The players need a toolbox to feel powerful despite all the restrictions and evidence to the contrary.
--Including hidden bonus damage for simply using the correct attack on enemies. An enemy with a low Reflex stat is also probably weak to the "Speed" element, so bonus damage the player is never told about.
--Creation of a system to allow players to "Level Up" their skills three times, to what they desire most or think is the most powerful in combat. The standard "Fire" spell can be turned into a truly powerful spell that deals a ton of damage to a single target... or it can be used to inflict a powerful state on the enemy fairly frequently (and does some damage). These skills at max Tier are powerful enough to feel like you're "raining death" on enemies or "breaking the game" when used correctly.
--Give players access to every common element in the game as quickly as possible to allow for experimentation. They are given access to 10 of the 17 elements as soon as they get their second character.
--Some armor can mitigate damage as much as 95%-99% of single damage types.
--Each weapon has a strength and a weakness. While most fiddle with stats, there are a bunch that do extra things. For example, a "Book" on a mage acts as a shield. It adds no stats, but it does make the character completely immune to one or more elements.

---
So, look at my list. The details aren't all that important. It's a short list. You see all those restrictions in there? There's a lot. Very few positives in there as well.

Yet, it allows me to create encounters in which the player needs to worry about counter-play to what the enemies will do. If they paralyze you, you need to use a consumable to cure it. It allows me to build a system in which the player makes a choice and it's amazing, terrible, or average for the outcome. It allows me to tailor regular mook encounters to teaching a player a mechanic. Something they can use against the boss, or something they can defend against if the boss uses a more advanced version of it. It also forces me, as a dev, to consider how to challenge the player with more than just "make Defense 200 on this monster instead of 100". The game turns into the player being taught how to outsmart me.

Which, all of it, just feeds into the idea that players should be learning things and then winning because they learned them.

You should consider what goal your combat system has in mind.
 

SpicyNoodleStudios

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@Tai_MT While I don't agree that stats shouldn't be a large deciding factor, I like a lot of what I'm reading. Thank you for sharing! I agree with a lot of your design philosophy and choices. I also love reading about how devs have decided how many turns they want a player to win or lose in, based on certain conditions in the battle. It's all about those different conditions and how those come about, right?

You mentioned that keeping the combat fresh wasn't a good goal, but I disagree. Although freshness is an element of a larger goal for the combat, it's also a definite factor for retention. Freshness balances boredom, doesn't it? That's why things that rely on randomization are often fun, such as loot mechanics. And the ultimate goal would be fun.

You use a learning and testing sort of pattern to structure your combat, right? Mine's a bit different than that. I want to capture a more open, explorative world. I'm trying to reduce linearity as much as possible. Still, I want some enemies to be much stronger than others, and I still want to use a narrative. That means I have reduced random enemy encounters almost everywhere, and they come in layers. Weaker ones appear more often, and stronger ones appear less often.

I don't want players to easily be able to escape from the stronger ones either. I also don't want it to be impossible or too aggravating to escape from them. Considering that the players will be getting stronger (stat points and equipment), I plan on balancing the combat so that when they get stronger the weaker enemies can be defeated much faster, for probably obvious reasons.

My goal is "explore, but not easily." Or, "Investigate, but with constant pressure." Which to me has a sense of realism which I have personally experienced and have seen others experience to some degree. Also, because I want to capture the quality of how cities can be dangerous to explore, especially alone.

As for the rings, they aren't the core mechanic. The player character is a soldier who uses firearms. The addition of magic is for fun, I think it's fun to have and play with a magic system and I want a magic system in the game. Fight me about it.

I see the bullets as an element of their own, "physical." Some enemies can't be hurt well by bullets. That's how it is. For the sake of fun. Not science.

I think upgrading skills is cool but personally, I want to let them keep their low damage, low mana cost spells. It lets them feel out stronger enemies for weaknesses without being too harshly punished for messing up. It still takes that time, though. It also adds a selection variety, if they want to use a low cost weak spell for some reason, sure, do it! Why not...

Thanks for sharing. It was a good read.
 

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What I listed as having done was not meant as things you should take on board personally. It was listed to sort of give you an idea of what I was talking about and what I meant by your combat system having a purpose and then tailoring everything around that purpose.

If your purpose in your combat system is, "keeping it fresh", it uh... falls flat.

The reason for this is because it's a nebulous goal. How do you hit that target? How do you even define "fresh"? The rings, personally, reminded me of just a Class Change System, as well as Pokémon Weakness Charts. Is that fresh to you? It isn't fresh to me. I've been gaming since I was 6 (I'm 34 now). There's not much that devs do that "feels fresh" to me (though I often have ideas on how to make it unique after knowing what the purpose of any given system in a game is).

This is why I proposed several "roles" a combat system could have.

You seem to have chosen "Combat is a form of Exploration different from the rest of the game". Okay, good goal. How does the Rings system emphasize that? How does it play into that? What, specifically, does it do to trigger a player to think that they're exploring?

Right now, the system sounds "disconnected" from your goal for combat.

The point of me listing everything I did for my combat system and it's goal was to show you how having that goal makes your game "fresh" all on its own without trying.

My combat system isn't "Fresh" because I decided to do all those things. It's "Fresh" (well, not really, it's up to interpretation... I am doing a lot that no other game has done before, so who knows if any of it is even good or not) because of all the concessions and design decisions I had to make in response to my goal. I didn't just decide "I want my game to be unlike any other game ever made!". I started with "I want players to learn from baseline encounters and bosses are the real test." Why? Because it's the sort of gameplay I enjoy.

So, then I had to go through every single aspect of my game and decide how to make everything feed into that. Everything. My combat isn't some "stand alone" system. It is part of a larger whole. It interconnects with basically everything the player does. Exploration feeds into combat. Combat feeds into exploration. Combat feeds into narrative. Narrative feeds into combat. It is all one very large and probably excessively complicated "gameplay loop".

Likewise, I'm not sure what a goal of "fun" is. What sort of fun? Fun for whom? Which audience? What types of players? How do you measure "fun"? After all, lots of players enjoy Overwatch and League of Legends... but I never did. I found them boring, unbalanced, and that nearly every single match played the same with very little actual player input or skill involved (short of just rote memorization through excessive repetition... at which point I ask why you're making a video game your entire life instead of actually having a life...). You need to decide who you're designing a game for as well, and have all your systems feed into providing that experience for those sorts of players.

Some players enjoy Skinner Boxes and RNG Gambling of Loot boxes. I don't. I find them boring, frustrating, and manipulative. I am decidedly having anti-fun if they are in your game. I do not have the proper personality to enjoy them (namely to waste tons of hours of my life for random rewards that are worthless in 2 or 3 years when nobody plays the game anymore and the new one comes out). I have more fun in systems where all the rewards and cosmetics are locked behind in game actions (accomplish something in the game that is note-worthy). I also have more fun if every reward is reasonably attainable by every player (no timed rewards for events, no special stuff for early adopters, nothing locked away in a special edition packaging, nothing that requires any measure of luck to obtain, nothing that requires I give up having a job and a social life to play enough in order to get good enough to accomplish the task).

Basically, I only have fun with a video game when it does not act like a second job that nobody is paying me to do. Any game that asks me to sacrifice my time or money in order to play it, usually gets dropped. I refuse to grind materials for a crafting system. I refuse to grind drops for weapons/armor. I refuse to engage in loot box systems. I refuse to buy advantages or cosmetics. I refuse to run an event 100 times just to get a chance at the item in the table that is 1% drop rate. I have better things I can do. I could, for example, just play a different game. Or... go out with my friends. Or... play D&D with my friends. Or go out on a date. Or watch a good movie.

Anytime a game asks me to sacrifice time or money in exchange for "fun", I do not have fun.

So, how are you measuring "fun"? How does your "rings" idea tie into "Combat is also exploration"? How will the rest of your game tie into these concepts?
 

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@Tai_MT Thank you for putting so much care into your responses! I appreciate it.

I believe if I clarify my goal that it might also clear some misunderstanding. Again, I see my goal more as "Investigation, but with resistance or pressure." Therefore, the enemies would not be an independant or disconnected form of the game but the very real and present resistance trying to hold the player back from accomplishing their out of combat investigation and generally threatening their residence in the city. There are multiple reasons for that, based on the motivations of different organizations that enemies belong to.

In the future there may be less misunderstanding if you interpret things based off of the words that people use themselves. Miscommunication can be a bummer and I feel incredibly devalued when you go ahead and tell me what my goals are when I had already provided, in quotes, two different possible types of goals.

If you disagree with the concept or application of the wording of my goal, I would love to hear about that.

Thank you so much for your response!
 

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@SpicyNoodleStudios and @Tai_MT Please remember that Game Mechanics Design is not for feedback on individual, particular projects, but meant to be broader than that. Therefore detailed discussion of the goal of a specific game is not appropriate and does not help those who want to discuss the purported topic of the thread, but whose games are rather different. An individual game can be used as an example, but I think the conversation has moved well beyond that.
 

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