Rutlawski

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Welcome.

At a very early stage developement in the game, I made a decision to exclude Experience Points totally.
How it would look is, the levels shall be gained by proceeding through the story and finishing several goals.

As for monster encounters they should be not random and they serve as a sort of "obstacle" on the map, which you have to either try to dodge, or fight to clear your path. This sort of system requires much balance in stats and monster strength as well as general game pacing but with enough creativity it surely can be done.

I myself hate grinding and be forced to repeat some battles many times in order to get stronger. That's me though. I would really like to ask what do you think about it? What are the pros and cons of something like that? Will it be too linear?
 

Poryg

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Frankly, I don't see the point of this question. If you look at Steam for rpg maker games, you'll see one harold after another with different characters and different stories, but by no means good ones. You will see battle systems with terrible balance and worse storyline. When you see an rpg created in rpg maker, you see the same things together. A sideview battle system, where you go through and advance through levels. It is always refreshing to see something new for a change, somrthing that can bring colors to this grey world. So if I were you, I wouldn't worry whether I should or should not do it. But how am I gonna do it. After all, what can happen? In the worst case it won't work out.

To answer your question though... Yes, it is very troublesome to balance this kind of a battle system in a way that it won't get boring in case you are caught too often. But if it eorks out, then it can be really worth it.
 

bgillisp

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I say no. Past games that have tried this have gone over very poorly with the general public. Specifically, you run into the issue that if a player cannot get past your battle, they have no alternate way around it. In most games, you can grind to a ridiculous level if you have to, but you will be removing that option from the player.
 

Rutlawski

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Specifically, you run into the issue that if a player cannot get past your battle, they have no alternate way around it. In most games, you can grind to a ridiculous level if you have to
Yup.
But that's the whole point. I agree that in most games if you find yourself heavily outmatched a little grinding session can more often than not, do the trick. The player has a choice to go head on, or to grind and then feel more secure.
I also agree that taking that choice from the player may be like restricting him.

But I think that could be a problem with an unpolished game - mainly the enemy or boss HARDNESS comes strictly from his stats. You can overcome him with your own numbers but when you do not have way of getting this numbers up, you may get stuck.

I was thinking more of implementing this the way a player can always beat the battle, though it can be hard for other reasons.
Think about a challenging platformer. Your path is strictly linear and you cannot go around it, you can't farm or grind to make your way easier.
You have to take it head on, the way the dev intended and by skills and quick thought, you will go through.

This is the type of mechanic, I would like to acomplish, were the hardness of enemies would come out of variety, strategy and quick thinking. It is hard to keep balance and for it to be interesting but I think it can be done.
Frankly, I don't see the point of this question
I think I don't really take into consideration if I'll make it or not. I'll probably try, I am looking just for some feedback, how others even look at an idea like this.
What do you mean by "caught too often"?
 

Wavelength

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The main problem I see with this kind of system is that it leaves the player feeling less rewarded for winning (standard) battles - which should be a very rewarding feeling. Players like to feel like their power is growing as a reward for their successes. It also encourages your player to run away from battles they've begun (if you have a Run mechanic) rather than fight them - and since hitting Escape is a lot less engaging than figuring out a good combat strategy, it's doubtful that you're lining up reward with engagement properly.

If it's important to you that a player doesn't need to grind to progress through your game, there are lots of ways to do it. The simplest and most generally applicable is to make the stat boosts from Level Ups quite small, putting most of the power into Equipment or other types of stat boosts that can be earned by proceeding through the story/completing objectives. (Additionally, you can tilt the EXP given out heavily in favor of the bosses instead of regular encounters.)
 

acidhedz

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Don't think in terms of RPG then, think along the lines of Escape/Sneaky Horror.
RPG Maker is perfectly capable of making games that aren't strictly RPGs. It just depends on how you set things up.

As for balancing, it really isn't that hard. Since it doesn't sound like you want to include many enemies to begin with.
Either use an enemy levels plug-in so they're always right around the same level as the player, with similar stats. Or just crunch the numbers. I'd say figure our what level the PC(s) would be at if they'd beaten roughly half the enemies in the game to a given point, and base the current enemies on that PC level.
If they kill more enemies than that, they wont have problems with the later ones. Chances are they'll start skipping enemies till they get creamed and have to backtrack. So it'll tend to balance out. Excepting people who want to kill everything, but that will always be an issue with any game. You can't force them to not level past where they need to, for the next area. Not without limiting the XP of each area to just what they need, but then you're making them feel like they HAVE to kill everything, which can be just as bad or worse. Depending on the player's PoV.

There's no 'one stop solution' for anything you might want to do.
 

Enthar

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In my last project I had the same feeling about the random battles.
I left them out.
My enemies are seen on the map (simple sprites that are events) and the player can choose to fight them by simply crashing in or not by avoiding them.
if the enemy is destroyed the event triggers the selfswitch and "removes" the monster from the map.
In some maps they may return, giving the grinder the opportunity to...grind.

To balance things out, I have a expanded craftingsystem and tradingsystem to even the grinding for those who don't want to.

I never block the playerspath completely though. I too find nothing more irritating then to have to fight to continue.

So I like your idea, and definitely doable. Just make sure (or at least try to) you please every style of player, GL with it.
 

M.I.A.

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Specifically, you run into the issue that if a player cannot get past your battle, they have no alternate way around it..

In my last project I had the same feeling about the random battles.
I left them out.
My enemies are seen on the map (simple sprites that are events) and the player can choose to fight them by simply crashing in or not by avoiding them.

I have removed XP and LVLing from my main project. It is difficult to balance things a little here and there. The biggest challenge is how to give a sense of increased power and challenge where XP LVLing isn't present. But the two points I quoted, yes, if you create a battle a player cannot overcome, then balance is an issue. Be sure to do lots of play testing and have your pals play test. YOU as the creator know how to handle said battles, so fresh eyes are key. I handle these kinds of battles in a couple ways.

1- Enemies are seen on map. Nearly all of them. The few that I have reserved for Random Encounters are super simple, easy to beat, and are more or less for "gathering resources".
2- All battles are can be Escaped (with the exception of boss battles and story arc battles) with a success rate of 100%. The battle is exited and the enemy sprite is paused for a moment. This allows the player to continue to navigate or reassess if they want to engage with that type of enemy group. However, if they engage the same mob again after they have already escaped, then escaping is disabled (through regular means. Skills like "Run For Your Life" and "Smoke Screen" still have a chance to work).
3- In the event that a player stumbles upon a group of enemies that they can't seem to figure out how to beat, there is a Hunters Guild that will detail how to defeat those foes (adds a debuff to the foes, adds a buff to the player, gives an item that can freeze all foes, etc.) that will work on all general mobs (with the exception of bosses), but for a small fee.
4- Even if you fall in battle, it isn't game over right away. So long as you carry a "Totem", you can revive at full recovery and restart that same battle, this can give the player an opportunity to be more observant for what they should be doing next time around.

It's tricky, but if you come at it from as many angles as you can think of, it's doable AND enjoyable. Play test, play test, play test. :)
Hope you find this helpful!
-MIA
 

sabao

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Forced grinding is a symptom of either dated game design philosophy or poor balancing. Modern JRPGs usually strive for manageable encounter rates and the average number of encounters rewards enough EXP to put players at a decent enough level when confronted with real challenges like bosses. These days, grind is designed to be optional. If the game turns out easier for players who grind, that's fine. It's not how you as a designer wanted players to play, but it's still time and effort invested by a player into your game that ought to be rewarded.

There's a large number of players out there with diverse preferences for how to enjoy a game. Ask a few Final Fantasy fans and you'll likely find some people praising it for its story and others who enjoy grinding and unlocking skill/item combinations to figuratively 'break' the game with. Souls games are prized for its methodical combat, but the option to grind for souls is left open for players who may want opponents to be more manageable. Games are largely enjoyable due to the level of expression players are allowed to put into them, and this is/was traditionally paramount in RPGs (Role Playing Games) as a genre. Prescribing a single method to play not only cripples the role playing aspect of the game, but also runs the risk of excluding a number of people who may have wanted to enjoy the game on their own terms.
 

Learis

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I'm planning on doing something very similar for my game. I agree with bgillisp that removing the option to grind could make people get fed up if they can't beat an enemy to advance in the game. But ultimately even if someone could grind, they might still get fed up with a really hard boss and just quit.

Balance and intended difficulty should be what matters most. If you don't offer grinding as an option, perhaps you could include hints and strategies for people stuck on a certain enemy.
 

Tai_MT

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I don't like removing the option of grind entirely. If you've seen me around the forums, you might find that weird, considering I lambaste any game that FORCES me to grind... or has many of its mechanics REVOLVE around grind.

I like grind to be optional. Sometimes, I just want 5 or 10 extra levels so that I can breeze through combat for a while and enjoy the story. Sometimes, I just want some extra levels to get that new spell that's got to be coming up. Sometimes, I want to farm the drops of a monster (not often, but sometimes I do). Sometimes, I want to gain some money so I can go on a spending spree.

But, that option should be left in, in my opinion. If you can make combat difficult regardless of the stats, then it shouldn't be any problem to make combat difficult even with levels in place.

My own stance on grinding for my game has simply been relegated to doing something else entirely. Players can still grind for money and monster drops... and XP. But, gaining XP isn't that important. Your stats are linked to Quests completed and not to gaining a level. Levels are linked to events in the world. They open Quests, they remove obstacles, they create shortcuts, new shopkeepers show up sometimes, some NPC's might show up as well. Gaining levels is linked to altering my game world in a less "player controlled" way.

The other game I'm running takes XP and uses it as currency. Want +1 Attack? Pay this shopkeeper 200 XP for it. Want a shiny new sword? Costs 500 XP for it. You can still buy in game things with actual currency (the setting doesn't allow for much of that, since it makes little sense to the story for there to be minted coins floating about and exchanging hands). But, you'll mostly be spending your XP as the only currency in my other game. You'll always be Level 1, however. Unless you manage to gather a crapload of XP to hit level 2... But, you won't be able to get beyond Level 2... And you get nothing for being Level 2.

I just say, why worry about the grind altogether? If you don't like the way players use it, then maybe figure out a way to use it differently? If the only way to get power is to beat the bosses, why bother with anything else? I'd look up a guide, figure out how to cheese the boss or win easily with what I've got at my disposal... And move right along.

The problem with only awarding stats every so often (like beating a boss) is that monsters aren't going to be able to pose too much of a threat to players. You're going to hinder your own creativity with skills, monsters, items, weapons, and armors. Can't have a sword that's too strong, or you'll blow through the standard enemies. Can't have a sword that's too weak, or combat will take forever against every opponent.

Personally, I think a progression system is a good idea and your monsters should reflect that "progression" a little. All the monsters in this area are between these stats and these stats and do these skills and these things. Crippling player input on how much power they have is just going to make a stagnant game where the stats are meaningless because you won't feel any stronger than you were at the start, since monsters will still be dying in 5 hits, just like they were at the beginning of the game.

Anyway, I have to get back to work. That's my two cents. I hope it helps.
 

Milennin

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My last game also removed exp points entirely, and instead granted an automatic party level-up upon victory. Then again, it was built with a limited number of encounters in mind, so it worked for my type of game. In a traditional RPG, I guess regular experience points work better.
 

BadMinotaur

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Playing the Devil's advocate here --

If your party can only gain levels through one-time encounters that you know they will face, and (roughly) in what order, then I think it can work. It'll rely on you paying more attention to balancing, but it's not impossible or even too difficult.

This is because if you know what they'll be fighting and when they'll be fighting it, you can base your encounters' stats on what you know the party's stats will be. In this model, encounters are closer to puzzles to solve rather than enemies to grind mindlessly. You'll always know how much damage the party will do to the enemy, you'll always know how much damage they'll take, so you can tailor each encounter to best suit them and their abilities at any given time. Or you can use your encounters to test their knowledge or execution of certain abilities, because you'll know what they have and how effective it is.

So it has its merits and isn't a bad idea. Your focus is just different than a normal RPG.
 

Rutlawski

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Thanks for all your replies.
They're incredibly insightfull on many point of views and help me in prioritizing what I want to achieve in my game :)
This feedback is most welcome.
 

Randy

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It's difficult to say either way, not seeing your game and how the progression works. I agree that there should be some alternative way to improve stats because you never want the player to hit a battle that's too hard with no options to improve their chances. Designers might want to blame the player for not playing "correctly" or "efficiently", but in the end all players are different. If some players simply cannot adjust to the way that you want battles to go, then the game designer is at fault. The game should be inclusive enough that many different types of players will still find enjoyment through the various obstacles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_taxonomy_of_player_types
I'm speaking primarily of Bartle's taxonomy of player types. Ideally, you would have the possibility to complete a mission in 2-6 different ways. This might be too much of a task for a single designer or even a small team. So a better way to address desires from many different player types is to have areas of the game that are very appealing to a certain type of player. Have optional loot caves, battle arenas, casual item farming, interesting side stories, etc.

Having no exp is neither inherently good nor bad. It just means that you have to give other options for people that mostly want to explore, or read the lore, or collect the most gold/items. There is no longer an economy of experience, but does that mean the economy of gold, loot, or stats changes? What options do players have if one part of the game becomes too difficult and it is not a part of the game that the player is even interested in? A lot of people will give up at the first sign of major difficulty. Others crave difficulty and won't even play a game if it's too easy. Classically RPGs deal with that dissonance with experience and scaling enemies, but that doesn't mean it's the only solution.

One option is to have a gym area, where there are mashing mini-games to slowly improve stats. You could also have potions that increase stat points that are optionally hidden or can be purchased for a lot of money. You could have a battle arena with varying difficulties where players can gain additional stats or rare items. Just make sure that there are options for the player to improve their chances against any battle. Otherwise you're essentially soft-locking the game and forcing the player to quit.
 
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DrinkableTrees

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I feel that a large portion of the appeal of an RPG is the idea of progression. EXP systems are engraved into our minds regarding RPG systems that the absence of it might mislead the type of game you're trying to get across. Rewarding the player at milestone points as opposed to EXP Progression (be mindful that a large portion of the gaming community likes to grind/manipulate their power progression) might just come off as a Visual Novel-esque story narrative with combat elements.

If you don't reward people for dwelling in areas to explore/observe they may take much of your work for granted and if I was playing such a game, i'd likely run right through hostile zones fleeing from each battle with no care for what the enemy is that I'm fighting (even if it was tasteful to the environmental storytelling). I'd just rush through onto the next aspect of the story.
 

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