Making a battle system that affects the game without being labeled as an undertale clone.

LittenDev

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I'm working on a story focused game with one of its two major themes being the morality of killing and the value of a life.
The battle system i have currently has an attack option, a kill option, a flee option, a talk option, and an item option.
Flee works like any other RPG, and so does attack until you leave the battle and find that the damage done is still there after the battle. Kill acts as a meter that will fill up under certain conditions that vary between the 3 main party members, and once full the character in question will automatically go for the kill, turning the game into either stopping that character from killing the enemy, or using it to your advantage. Talk and item can be used to end conflicts without harming the enemy, and slightly similar to undertale, act as a puzzle.
The problem is, how do i do this without being labeled as an undertale clone? My goal is to eventually release the game on steam, but i feel like once people see the battle system they will pass up the game. Any ideas? (note to mods: not sure if this goes here or project ideas, feel free to move it if it fits better there!)
 

AoDLegacy

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Based on what you have said, you couldn't be accused of outright copying (legally at least) Undertale and here's some advice I have for you. Go for it. Who cares what people think? You have an idea, make it your own. All art is derivative, it is the individual who makes each work their own. We all are influenced or inspired by something. There is no shame in that.

From what you describe, you do things in a different way than Undertale. The underlying mechanic is similar, but you take the base idea and make it work in your own way. Mercy options have been done before Undertale and will continue to do so. I will say this at least - do your best to visually distance from Undertale. Visual reminders will work against you more than the raw gameplay.
 

LittenDev

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Based on what you have said, you couldn't be accused of outright copying (legally at least) Undertale and here's some advice I have for you. Go for it. Who cares what people think? You have an idea, make it your own. All art is derivative, it is the individual who makes each work their own. We all are influenced or inspired by something. There is no shame in that.

From what you describe, you do things in a different way than Undertale. The underlying mechanic is similar, but you take the base idea and make it work in your own way. Mercy options have been done before Undertale and will continue to do so. I will say this at least - do your best to visually distance from Undertale. Visual reminders will work against you more than the raw gameplay.
Thanks for the advice! I'm doing my own sprites in a 16x16 style of pixel art, so hopefully it will be distinct enough visually! Not really worried about legal wise, and more so having my game written off as an uninspired clone.
 

rue669

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I think people will very likely compare it to Undertale and that’s okay. Undertale was such a huge success that it has now become its own kind of genre in a way. Sometimes you see Undertale like games called Earthbound like.

While Undertale did have a unique-ish battle system (borrowing from the bullet hell genre) the main uniqueness of Undertale was that Tony Fox took RPG conventions, like level or HP, and made it integral to the plot, character and world. He basically turned those concepts upside down. That’s what I think makes a game comparable to Undertale.
Good luck on the game!
 

Wavelength

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People loved Undertale. I think there's still a lot of appetite for more good games that brings in some of the same mechanics and themes that Undertale did. If people see your game and draw the mental link in their mind to Undertale, that's probably a good thing. You just need to make sure that your game doesn't feel like an uninspired knockoff. There are lots of ways to do that; a couple of them are:
  • Think deeply about what message you want to imbue into your game. Undertale had a pretty clear message (violence is easy and it doesn't challenge your prejudices - but it leads to ruin in the end). Your message will likely be something different, even if you explore some of the same themes that Undertale does. Use that message as your guiding star for mapping out your most important plot points, and you'll find that your story will feel a lot different than Undertale's.
  • Design some mechanics that go deeper or feel cooler than Undertale's (just be careful not to make them too complex). For example, Undertale had a very clear and very simple dichotomy between the Fight (timed hit to deal damage) and Act (pick one of ~4 listed actions and hope it pacifies the enemy so you can Spare them or progresses to further Act choices) actions. What if your game allows the two to interplay more with each other, changing the Actions available as combat moves are made? What if your Fight system is more about the strategic setup of skills than it is about timed hits? What if your "Talk" is more like a true dialogue tree with a back-and-forth conversation, and the different experiences you find in the game add more options on things you can say? What if you go all-in on Items as a mechanic, allow them to be found all over, and make the main condition for Sparing foes giving them the right items?
  • Place your game in a different setting. Undertale set its adventure in a whimsical modern-day-ish kind of monster underworld. Perhaps you think your story about the value of life will be best told on the frontline of a medieval crusade, or a clean but impersonal futuristic city of robots, or a far-Eastern inspired temple amidst majestic but harsh mountains. Setting, just like plot and character, is an element that can make similar works feel very different from each other.
 

Dev_With_Coffee

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The most important focus the others have already spoken about.
So I'm going to talk more about mechanics, although I never really played this game, I knew the system and the logic.

If you are going to do something like that, I advise you not to hunt for plugins to try to solve system issues, since it is something that requires less graphic effects, it could be easier to create with events and use Plugins only as aids.
 

Zalzany

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Yeah should be able to be done with events pretty easy. And honestly we need more morality in some of the games. I still love throwing in a bit of cliche, where player tries to loot some strangers stuff they get yelled at for just walking into some ones place and trying to rifle through their things for no reason.
 

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