The Point of No Return

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Ragpuppy87, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Ragpuppy87

    Ragpuppy87 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    Idaho, United States
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Is it ever OK to have a "Point of No Return"?

    I'm designing my game's climax.

    From a storytelling standard, I feel that once a certain point is reached it would make no sense
    to allow my player to simply go back to previous areas.

    Once you cross this point this is it. Final battle time. All or Nothing.

    But I also realize from a game design standard that this could potentially screw the player over if they
    find they aren't quite as strong as they thought.

    I've tried my best to design the game's difficulty to the point of "If you made it this far, you should be able
    to tackle the final boss."

    And I also have an in game warning of "Once we enter this place there may be no coming back! Are we positive
    we are ready?"

    So is that enough? Or should I try a different approach?
     
    #1
  2. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    152
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    If you’re specifically concerned about the player getting stuck because they’re not strong enough to deal with the enemies past the point of no return, you could place a boss immediately before that point as a sort of test. You should balance this boss so that if players can beat it, they’ll likely have a relatively easy time with the content immediately afterward. This will help ensure that players won’t even have the chance to dive into the situation unprepared.

    It’s also wise to design this final area of yours with readily-accessible utilities (inns, shops, etc.) from close to the time the player enters, and to make sure that the first couple maps feature some enemies that fall below the average difficulty curve while still giving okay rewards. This early dip in difficulty will give players a zone to safely grind/acquire resources if they do get stuck for some reason.

    It seems counterintuitive to initially lower the difficulty when the player enters the climax of your game, but you can ramp the difficulty up quickly after those initial “safe” maps without worrying about locking your players into an unwinnable position.
     
    #2
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  3. shockra

    shockra Slightly Crazy Programmer Veteran

    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    177
    Location:
    US
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I've seen games that have such a warning, so it's not entirely unheard of. It can work as long as you make the warning clear. What I would do is place a boss or cutscene right before the "no turning back" point that warns the player. The advantage of the boss is that it tests the party. Then issue the warning one last time as they try to pass that point. You want to give the player more than one prompt to ensure that they don't accidentally miss the warning.
     
    #3
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  4. Poryg

    Poryg Dark Lord of the Castle of Javascreeps Veteran

    Messages:
    3,922
    Likes Received:
    9,900
    Location:
    Czech Republic
    First Language:
    Czech
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    What about a save prompt or something? I have seen it in a game with a warning.
     
    #4
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  5. Ragpuppy87

    Ragpuppy87 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    Idaho, United States
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Well, I already have a Save Point in plain sight directly before the point of no return, along with the warning.
    Kind of an indirect prompt.

    Also @Soryuju and @shockra I do actually already have a Boss battle in place like you two suggested.
     
    #5
  6. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    1,298
    Likes Received:
    454
    Location:
    NYC
    It's kind of a tricky thing I find. The way it's usually handled is some kind of message saying "Once you enter the dungeon, you will not be able to leave. Are you sure you're ready?" The player, especially who has played other jRPGs before, usually gets the message from this. But you're still kind of trusting the player to keep a separate save file in case it turns out they did or didn't do something catastrophic that makes them unable to beat the last dungeon and now they're stuck. Kind of depends how difficult you want your game to be. If you're really just wanting to 100% ensure that the player get through it all eventually, then personally I would avoid this mechanic. If you care about having a little bit of reasonable challenge at the end and you give your player fair warning, then presumably you chose this "no backtracking" mechanic precisely for that reason.
     
    #6
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  7. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,065
    Likes Received:
    12,240
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    My game has two points of no return for various plot reasons. In both cases as soon as the player crosses the point of no return they are warned that you cannot leave this area until you complete it, and are asked if they wish to make an alternate save now. Also I use an autosave system and no autosaves are made once you pass the point of no return, so at worst the player can load the autosave and go back to before they crossed that point.

    Also I put in a way for the party to heal back to full HP/MP inside those dungeons, and a couple of wandering skeletons who decided this is a good place to set up shop for some odd reason. So far it seems to have worked well based on early feedback.
     
    #7
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  8. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    741
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Not gonna lie, I hate points of no return in games unless they're done in a way where I can't save in them at all, since a player can't ruin their save if they can't save at all. Points of no return pretty much turn your game from an "enjoy it to start to finish" into "suddenly every single sidequest is missable." No thanks to that.

    Even if it means suspending disbelief like in FF1's final dungeon (the Exit spell takes you not just out of the dungeon, but also from the past back to the present!) I do everything I can to avoid having points of no return in my games. And that includes allowing exit/re-entry into the final dungeon.
     
    #8
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  9. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    94
    Location:
    'Murica
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I had a point of no return in Oni Sellsword, and I figure I'll do the same in my next game. But that point is literally when the player engages in the final boss battle. It seems superfluous, I know, especially considering players can't backtrack to previous areas to begin with so it's well ingrained into the player's mind how things work already. But I just think it's ... nice? Like, when I play games I like knowing when a game is ending. I guess I just really don't like the feelings of "wait, it's over?" and "wait, there's more?" either.

    Definitely a personal nitpick of mine. I think this stems from how other media works. With a book, you always know how close you are to the end based on the number of pages left. And with a movie (at least when viewed at home) you can see how much time is left (and also movies are super structured and all the same length, generally).

    Just my own nitpick, but I don't like when things outside of the game are explained by characters in-game. It's just weird. Like, how do you know this is the end? Did you read the script? How do you know that?! So I prefer having just like a system message instead. Either way is "immersion-breaking", but I think doing it that way is less weird.
     
    #9
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  10. ave36

    ave36 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    34
    First Language:
    Russian
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    In my game, the final dungeon is behind a magical forcefield that the heroes managed to temporarily breach with a Ray Bomb (technomagical nuke) once and keep it open for some seconds for their airship to get through. They realize that they cannot repeat this trick to exit the field, so it is logical to warn of this in character.
     
    #10
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  11. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    94
    Location:
    'Murica
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    @ave36 Yeah, if you can construct a logical in-game reason for this situation to be so "now or never". But I'm speaking more to the plethora of games where it's just a matter of killing a guy (or something similarly simple). And that guy (or objective) is someone you've attempted to take down before- possibly attempted so more than once- and has previously eluded you.

    I don't think every story will necessarily have the capacity to make things into such a now or never state. And it isn't necessarily needed, although it does make the stakes dramatic.
     
    #11
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  12. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,065
    Likes Received:
    12,240
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    @Aesica : I personally don't like shutting off the saving though. What if the player has to leave now for work and can't continue and doesn't want to watch the cutscene that led to this event again? Plus shutting off saving turns all fights in there into a you lose do it all over again, which at that point might as well just use save points to get players used to that.

    @woootbm : I think it depends. My points of no return occur for instance when the party jumps down a hole in a desperate attempt to get away from something, but now they are in a cave and lost and they can't just climb out the same hole. I think most gamers will figure out pretty fast that there's no escaping this until we finish this zone from that. Another is after the party does something and has to get away from everyone who wishes to stop them while they navigate the dungeon in reverse back to the entrance. Again, players should be able to figure that one out pretty well I'd hope, but I do warn them that they may wish to make an alternate save, just in case.
     
    #12
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  13. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    741
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Yeah, I'm not a fan of it either, but IMO it's still better than allowing players to potentially poison their save by saving in the point of no return zone. The save-managing minigame isn't really very fun, and it isn't even a thing I ever had on my radar until I started playing other people's RM games.

    Ideally, it'd be preferable if people just avoided point-of-no-returns in their games overall. No matter how point-of-no-return-y someone's final dungeon might seem to them as they make it, you can always come up with a plausible reason to justify allowing the player to leave and come back later. For example, to use @ave36 's example above, it could easily be explained to the player that, once on the other side, the characters could set up some sort of teleporter that would allow them to exit and return as needed.
     
    #13
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  14. EthanFox

    EthanFox Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    177
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    A lot of games do this; Xenoblade 2 did it.
     
    #14
  15. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,065
    Likes Received:
    12,240
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    @Aesica : Gamers must be way different now. When I grew up it was drilled into our heads to make alternate saves OFTEN for any game we played. And many of the 80's/90's classics expect you to have alternate saves as many will let you try to do things even if you are not ready for it but those actions could get you stuck very easily.

    Now granted you could ignore it at your own risk. I remember thinking I didn't need one for Zork I. In fact I thought I didn't even need to save, how hard can this game be? Anyone who has played it now is probably laughing hard at this, but I was like 6 or 7 or so too. Let's just say I learned quickly.

    On another note, I highly doubt anyone who has played Baulder's Gate (1 or 2) even did it without some alternate saves. If you did, you took a huge chance as you could find out you were underleveled and then be stuck. Even Divinity Original Sin (a much newer game) from what I could see of it would require alternate saves too.'

    Maybe it's just a JRPG thing this whole idea of not needing alternate saves as we play, as I honestly never heard of people thinking that way until about the time ff7 came to the US and got really popular.

    Edit: BTW, here are some other reasons it is wise to make alternate saves.
    1: Someone else is playing the same game on your computer and accidentally saves over your game.
    2: Your save game is corrupted (happened way too many times to count to me even on an NES or PS1/PS2).
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
    #15
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  16. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

    Messages:
    4,376
    Likes Received:
    3,646
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I'm not a big fan of the "no turning back" mechanic (it's an acceptable break from reality to allow players to walk out of a prison they broke into or whatever that's usually justified by averting negative effects on gameplay), but if it's just your Final Boss, and not half a dungeon or anything like that, beyond the Point of No Return... then simply don't allow any saving after that point, and you're good!

    If your game's theme (e.g. a vending machine) or plot (e.g. a friendly merchant traveling with you) allows for a shop after the Point of No Return, that's a nice feature to include, just in case the player is a bit overconfident and doesn't exhaust their money on consumables (etc.) before moving on beyond the Point.
     
    #16
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  17. Hermoni

    Hermoni Villager Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    15
    First Language:
    French
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVX
    I dont understand one thing.
    If after this point it's only all the "final battle" (and what there around) part, why let the player save after this point and not juste before ?
    Is it cause it's a long part and player can want save it ? If yes, i can understand, and a warning is good.
    If not, why ?

    This can be really frustrating when you can't go back for any reason.
    That remember me some FF that you can do some sidequest only CD 3 cause in CD4 you can't return in some place (I suppose it was a problem with CD, not enough place on it ?).
     
    #17
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  18. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    741
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I grew up on classics like the original Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior/Quest. Neither of these games had points of no return, and I never really felt like I was in a position where I needed to make multiple saves in any NES/SNES game. In FF1 specifically, the final dungeon was a trip back through time (I mentioned it in my previous post) with no map event to return to the present. However, this avoids the point of no return trope narrowly by 1) not allowing you to save within this final dungeon and 2) if you had a character with Warp or Exit, you could still leave the dungeon. This is actually a great example of what @Wavelength was referring to--a suspension of realistic expectations in order to make the game friendlier to the player.

    1 was never an issue for me since I was the only person in my family who played video games. As for 2, it's been my experience in most cases that corrupt saves (in NES/SNES games) generally affected everything in the SRAM, not just one save. In fact, out of all my time playing NES/SNES games, I only ever once had a single save end up corrupted.

    I guess what I'm getting at overall is that, as mentioned before, I never really felt truly obligated to maintain multiple saves in games until playing RM games. For whatever reason, too many RM devs include saveable points of no return and other forms of annoying missable content in their games, and I just don't understand why.
     
    #18
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  19. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,065
    Likes Received:
    12,240
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    @Aesica yep sounds like a difference between western vs jrpg as western RPGs do points of no return and you can save past them all the time and no one seems to mind.

    Plus if someone grew up on the western PC RPGs they learned fast to make alternate saves for the same reason we tell everyone to back up their project. That's why I've never understood those who never make alternate saves as save files can get corrupted easily...just as easily and usually for the same reason rpgmaker protects do.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
    #19
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.
  20. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

    Messages:
    4,368
    Likes Received:
    4,936
    Location:
    Riftverse
    First Language:
    Indonesian
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I never really give much thought about this. It usually connected to missable contents, and I never mind them at all. As long as there is enough information I need to know. For gaming experience, I need to know that I won't be able to return for a while or won't ever go back to my previous location/state. "You will not able to go back once you pass this point, Would you like to proceed or make more preparations? Y/N". RPG progress and I accept such a concept. If I enter a teleport, I entered into a different place, and I won't be back, it's fine. If I decide to do this, some places will be destroyed/turned into another state, no turning back, it's fine.

    I'm not a completionist who get pissed every time I can not go back and missed some stuff. Which is why I never really give a thought about this. And the game I'm making right now actually has this element as the major element. I want my player to just go move forward.
     
    #20
    Ragpuppy87 likes this.

Share This Page