Spaceship Battle System

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by definite_lee, Dec 20, 2018.

  1. definite_lee

    definite_lee Veteran Veteran

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    Hello all!

    One of the features I most wanted to develop into my game was a JRPG styled spaceship battle system.
    Due to limited time afforded to me, in the demo of my game my implementation of the system is very basic:
    -Standard Turn Battle
    -One Actor in battle
    -Skills are limited use
    -'Recharge' mechanic to recharge the limited uses on skills when you run out
    -Limited use Barrier defensive system to absorb incoming damage

    While some players have told me they found the battles in the demo refreshing or unique, others said it felt basic and not very engaging.

    So I wanted to reach out to the community here and get some ideas for how I could improve the battles and make it more exciting and interesting for the player. As far as I know, I couldn't find another JRPG style space combat game to reference for ideas so it has been hard trying to create something that seems like it hasn't been created before.

    So what sort of mechanics/style of battle would you include if you were to create a battle system between spaceships?
     
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  2. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I've only seen spaceship battles in 3 games so far that I remember, and they were the following games:

    Infinite Space (GBA). This game is rare and hard to find, or was when I last had a GBA.
    Buck Rogers Countdown to Doomsday and Buck Rogers Matrix Cubed (PC). These two you could probably get on gog.com.

    Both had spaceship battles and could maybe be worth a playthrough, or at least a read of the FAQ's of the game to get an idea how they did it.
     
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  3. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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  4. definite_lee

    definite_lee Veteran Veteran

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    Thanks I will take a look at these and get some ideas.
     
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  5. shockra

    shockra Slightly Crazy Programmer Veteran

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    Personally, I would strongly recommend looking into the Sega game "Skies of Arcadia". That game uses both standard JRPG combat, as well as ship-to-ship combat. It's not in space, but the combat system for ships offers a lot of inspiration.

    On a side note, I've considered trying something like this myself, so if you make any big breakthroughs on such a system, let me know.
     
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  6. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    you'll need something different from the regular battlesystems that would fit with spaceships instead of actors.
    I suggest a difference in how the skills are handled - have the actor the regular way of learning skills through leveling, but have the spaceships have no default skills and no levels, instead adding "systems" as equipment and have the equipment provide the bonuses and the skills (which would be named as using the installed systems).
    Then the player can modify equipment to gain advantages by using different weapons or protections through space battles (with different elements that are only used on spaceships and so on).

    you'll need one of the plugins to change equip slots based on actors (spaceships have no hands but weapon hardpoints) and perhaps one that allows to change between parties and inventories (the spaceship can carry equipment in its carge, but it would not fit with a human carrying tons of equipment).
     
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  7. definite_lee

    definite_lee Veteran Veteran

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    Wow that grid system in the battles looks pretty interesting. Something to look into for sure.


    Yep I have thought of that as well. The ship has five main equipment slots to 'install' new parts to alter your stats before battles. Currently there's no leveling or exp gaining in-game. You only increase your abilities through finding materials to build new parts to install on your ship.
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    There are lots of RPGs that use Spaceship Battles as an extra feature/minigame, usually action-based. As far as RPG Maker goes there's Menagerie by Bizarre Monkey, but again, I believe spaceship battles are a (frequent and well-developed) feature rather than the standard way of doing battle.

    Since you're trying to develop your main battle system around ships, and going for a traditional, turn-based system, you might want to look to Skies of Arcadia's airship battles for inspiration. Not that they were superb, but they had some interesting ideas in the turn-based format.

    Ultimately, with your approach, the single most important thing you can do is to nail the fundamentals of a good single-member turn-based RPG battle system... and nailing the theme of starship battles should be a secondary priority. All of the fundamentals - tight balance around feeling danger in most battles, offering a wide selection of skills that feel like different playstyles, a variety of enemies that force you to utilize different playstyles that are available, keeping the battles crisp and quick (and avoiding an over-reliance on healing)... all of those still hold. Don't sacrifice the basics of good turn-based battle design just to achieve something that seems like it would be thematically cool with starships.

    Here's how I might go about developing:
    • A basic system: Works a lot like standard RPG combat, except that throughout the game you can collect "parts" for your spaceship which each enable passive benefits or active skills. Your hull can only hold so many parts (expands throughout the game), but at any time (or only in port if you want to be more realistic but less flexible), you can swap these parts on your ship out for others that you own, to customize your battle kit. Each active skill, except a basic "attack", would probably have a Cooldown to how often it could be used (or, if your Recharge mechanic is well-liked, that would be a fine substitute for Cooldowns).
    • A moderately advanced system: All of the above, plus the health of each spaceship part is tracked individually (though with very small numbers, like single digits). Most offensive skills target specific parts of the enemy ship; for example, an EM Beam might damage the Shield Generator, which - unless disabled by damage - can be used to put up Shields to protect the Hull (the ship's main HP gauge). This adds a lot of tactical strategy in what skills to use and when. Perhaps offensive skills must be charged for a turn to deal significant damage, or perhaps the skills take up to a few turns to land depending on the ships' distance from one another (with the ability to move in on another ship or attempt to put distance between you), giving battlers a chance to 'react' with defensive moves before attacks land. Taking just a couple hits to the hull should be enough to destroy a spaceship, so that they battles don't drag on too long.
    • A very complex system: All of the above, but instead of choosing attacks each turn, each part of your spaceship automatically does its job each turn. You have a limited number of crewmembers (probably 6 or less to keep the experience sharply focused), and any part of your spaceship that is staffed by crew will do its job significantly better. Your role as the player, within combat, is to move the crew around each turn based on your needs (for example, if a laser beam is coming to damage your hull, you better get someone over to the shield generator!). The layout of the ship when you design it could even be a factor in this system, with the amount of time it takes for a crew to move from one part of the spaceship to another depending on the distance between those two parts in the ship's layout.
     
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  9. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I have a space-themed game kicking around in the back of my mind, but it probably won't see the light of day until my first 2 projects are done. The idea I had for a space battle system was basically this:
    • Front view--one of the few times I could possibly justify using a front view battle system.
    • ATB or CTB based. This allows for rapid-fire weapons that get many actions compared to slow-but-heavy weaponry. See the next section item for more details.
    • Multiple "actors" which are actually components of the ship, such as weaponry. So at a given time, your "party" could be something like: Ship, Laser Cannon, Plasma Turret, and Torpedo Launcher. The latter 3 are of course damage oriented while the ship itself would be entirely support-based, doing things like repairing itself and/or the weaponry, adjusting shields to counter enemy attacks, etc.
    • If the main ship dies, it should obviously count as a lost battle.
    • The weapons and other system "actors" could be created/researched/equipped, depending on developer preference.
    The idea is that, instead of a ship that goes "PEW!" once every round and that's it, you'd get something that feels more like what you'd see in an episode of Star Trek.
     
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