Single-character battles?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by StrawberrySmiles, Mar 14, 2018.

  1. StrawberrySmiles

    StrawberrySmiles The Talking Fruit Veteran

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    How would you make a single-character battle (turned-based) fun or engaging? I could only think of two ideas: skills as commands (like Pokemon) or timed attacks.

    Are there any games out there with a single-character battle system that you enjoy? What kind of ideas do you have?
     
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  2. OnslaughtSupply

    OnslaughtSupply Blaaaah!!! Veteran

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    Personally in a single actor combat system I think it needs to be fast paced and that one character needs to be flexible with a rather broad skill set.
     
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  3. Frogboy

    Frogboy I'm not weak to fire Veteran

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    I think it could be interesting if it were more tactical. Maybe you don't just attack. Maybe you have to decide where to attack (high, low, mid) or something like that. Perhaps you need to set a specific defensive stance or posture to counteract the enemy's attacks. Basically, you want to have the same level of crunch that four characters give you but roll it into one character so that it's equally engaging.
     
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  4. Vincent Chu

    Vincent Chu Writer and translator Veteran

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    Reminds me of beat-em-ups like Street Fighter, Tekken and FF Dissidia.
    There's also the rock, papers, scissors duel system in Suikoden.
     
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  5. Titanhex

    Titanhex Do-It-All Veteran

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    Rock Paper Scissors also exists in the "Plunge" system of the RM2K3 Misao Award winner, "The Way" by Crestfallen Studios but a bit more indepth than simple RPS.

    You also have variance such as 2 Party Systems like Paper Mario.

    I think if the player can use positioning or the environment to their advantage that can be fun. I have an old DBS for RMVX-Ace that uses a Tactical fighting game approach to single avatar combat.
    I modeled it off of an old RMXP Game, of which I've forgotten the name. :(
    Link can be provided on request.

    If you were to use row formations it's totally possible to make it so your front row can have party members placed there to act as "barriers" and have the party members just be rocks or shields or terrain features.

    You can also make it so damage isn't done numerically, but by body-part. As a character's body parts get damaged, their skills get sealed, they suffer debuffs, etc. Then, you would need to replace them as the game progresses. So your avatar would essentially act as their "manager."

    Single character battlers could potentially work if the battlers are expendable.

    You also have games like "Undertale" which has a single character party system but borrows from other combat systems to do single target combat.
    How you represent that combat is up to you, and what works for your game.
     
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  6. Wavelength

    Wavelength Mo Daylight, Mo Problems Veteran

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    You're putting yourself behind the 8-ball a bit by designing a single-character turn-based combat system because the synergies and roles that exist in party-based combat are a large part of what make it interesting.

    Generally, when I see single-character turn-based combat done well, it comes from a really diverse set of enemies/troops, who all require different kinds of tactics to defeat, and a similarly diverse set of skills or actions for the player to choose from to defeat them. It also helps when the player is given a lot of different options about how to build their character, but this is more of a "nice to have" whereas diverse enemies are a "must have".
     
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  7. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    I am trying to make a single party game myself and its not easy.

    I only have a demo available currently but In the full game I know I need to work on speeding encounters up and making them less frequent. Its a really difficult balance to maintain.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
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  8. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @VisitorsFromDreams
    'Games Mechanics Design' is not the place to be advertising your game. Your post does not need a link to your demo for you to make your point that single character battles are not easy. Please edit it out.
    Thanks.
     
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  9. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    Didnt really see it as advertising so much as a relevant example to generate discussion but thats okay, it has been removed. I am now aware of this for the future.
     
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  10. cddeat03

    cddeat03 Veteran Veteran

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    You could try something where different actions apply different states to the enemy. For example, have a water spell that doesn't do much damage but applies a "wet" state and on the next turn use a lightning spell that does extra damage because of that state... Or something like that which makes sure that every player action counts for something. I think a single actor game is a great way to try and come up with creative soulutions to problems even multi-actor battle systems have to face.
     
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  11. Internetomancer

    Internetomancer Veteran Veteran

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    Try out Slay the Spire on Steam. It's extremely addictive card game that follows 1-character combat.
    Key is random card draws (so some skills are not available each turn).
    And the fact that you know what your opponent is planning.

    Strategy-wise though, it's all about timing, buffing, debuffing, setting up combos, etc. Just like any RPG.
     
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  12. AmazingKazuki

    AmazingKazuki Veteran Veteran

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    You could have a rock-paper-scissor type battle, you could have those timed attacks or certain button sequence. There are quite a few ways to do it, but it falls onto what game you're making. If you're making a straight RPG with what might have been normal battles, certain button sequences would have to be explained. Maybe it is as simple as do this and get this combo, or a possibility to follow up attacks.
     
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  13. RespectWomen

    RespectWomen Villager Member

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    I would design it so that the player queues commands like the infamous FFXIII series. So it doesnt feel like a silly exchange of blows. I think lightning returns did the solo party really well.
     
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  14. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Member

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    Honestly, the only way I can see single-character battles being even remotely interesting is if they're more than just the typical RPG system of "input commands, wait for results." I haven't finished yet, but Undertale (so far) makes single-character battles interesting by adding an action-y element to it (you have to manually avoid the enemy's attacks each round).

    With just a standard RPG battle engine, it's just too easy for single-character combat to fall into the trap of

    if (player.hp / player.mhp < 0.5) useHealingAbility();
    else if (importantDefensiveBuffs.areDown) reapplyImportantDefensiveBuffs();
    else tryToKillFoes();
     
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  15. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    The main thing is that you need to add complexity.

    You need to have the player thinking about as many things with 1 character as they are normally considering with 3 or 4. How you accomplish this? Well, you can take some things that are usually kind of automated by the system and put them in the control of the player. Maybe have some way of affecting initiative each round? Maybe implement a way to build up a critical bar and then use it to do an auto critical rather than having them happening randomly.

    Giving the player a lot of interconnected parts where each decision affects something about one of the other decisions is the key I think.

    Most things in gaming that make game play interesting are making it hard enough that you can't perform perfectly every time. This is done in many ways, either by having to do them quickly, or implement them using precision controls, like in action systems. But with turn based games it all has to be in the decision making itself. It has to be just complicated enough that you can't pick always tell the perfect answer.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  16. lianderson

    lianderson Veteran Veteran

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    This idea has been floating around my head for a few years. The whole single player battle system thing. And here's what I would do personally:

    1: large number of skills and equipment to choose from early on
    2: predictable enemies
    3: less enemies per battle
    4: carefully designed enemies so they all feel different
    5: very slow progression so early game enemies can still be a threat
    6: attribute allocation

    These are not the correct answers to all single player RPGs or anything. Again, they're just what I would personally do. (with other concepts not mentioned) So don't nit pick them too much.
     
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  17. vap0re0n

    vap0re0n Villager Member

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    If it's single character battles; variety is pretty much a must for me.
    E.g. not being set into a class looking at the exact same skills for 20+ hours.
    I feel Pokemon achieves this by allowing you to capture so many different types of Pokemon, and each Pokemon is essentially a different class with different skills, weaknesses/strengths, evolution's, etc.
    Weaknesses' and strength's play a big part in Pokemon too, so you always have to keep in mind the enemy as well as your own character in your tactics. You encounter a huge variety of enemies also, which is a big bonus.

    I feel having lots of different sprites and nice (but not too long) animations can also help - the first Pokemon had 151 different enemy sprites + the trainers, along with skill animations in battle. It's only grown too; I feel they need to do this because old players will get bored of the same sprites, skills, mechanics etc even if story is totally overhauled/changed.

    However, I am not too big a fan of single-character turn-by-turn battles unless it's Pokemon. If I'm controlling a single character battles, action RPG's like The Witcher, Bayonetta, Rune Factory, etc are a bit more fun imo, as I usually feel more engaged with the game play.
     
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