the nuances of designing the gameplay experience

jonthefox

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I've been thinking about how there are slightly different kinds of gameplay experiences found in jrpgs.

Type 1: you go through a dungeon where the challenge is not to run out of resources (HP, MP, and possibly consumables that restore your resources). You then face a boss where you must use tactical decision making in your choice of actions to triumph over the boss's stat level and unique skills and features.

Type 2: similar to the above, but the dungeon is actually not intended to be a serious challenge in terms of threatening your resources - but rather to get you familiar with new types of enemy challenges and give you practice with these as well as your new skill options.

In both types, there is sometimes a save point before the boss, which also restores your resources, as it views the "boss" challenge as an entirely separate task from surviving the dungeon (without running out of resources) or "learning" and "practicing" throughout the dungeon.

Type 3: There are far less battles than typical, but each battle is usually its own type of challenge. These games are essentially all "boss" encounters - each encounter is meant to challenge the player in some particular way.


Are there other types of gameplay experiences in a jrpg you have designed or experienced? What do you find most enjoyable or least enjoyable, and why? What important design considerations are there, depending on the type of gameplay experience you're designing for your players?
 

shockra

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I would add the Persona type to this list. Similar to the 1st type, but you have the option to leave for the day, restore your resources, and return on a later day to continue where you left off. Take too long to finish the dungeon, however, and it's game over.

In this type, you need to decide carefully when to enter the dungeon and when to prepare for it. There are reasons to not enter the dungeon on certain days and do something else. The limited time adds an extra element to your tactics that doesn't need to be considered in most other games.
 

AphoticAmaranth

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The third type is by far my favourite type, because it usually eliminates grinding, and prevents situations in which the party is over or under leveled.
 

Aoi Ninami

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Right now, I'm in the middle of playing Legends of an Otherworld (topic link) in a low-level game, and the stage of the game I've reached is giving me a very interesting experience I haven't seen in any other jRPG.

The next storyline boss, Lunarion, is extremely difficult and might be impossible for me to take on with my party at their current level. However, there are several optional bosses scattered around the gameworld, and each of them gives a special reward that makes my party more powerful in some respect without increasing my level. So there is an almost Mega Man-like metapuzzle where I have to work out which bosses to tackle to give me what I need to take on another boss to gain another ability, and so on, in the hope that eventually the chain of dominoes will topple Lunarion. It's fascinating, especially since it was clearly not entirely planned this way but just emerged from the bosses being individually made difficult. It could be a frustrating experience, but since it leads to repeatedly experiencing the satisfaction of being able to defeat bosses that seemed literally impossible a little while earlier, I'm finding it to be one of the best times I've had in a jRPG.
 

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