The weakest parts of RPG battle design?

Chaos Avian

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I'm sure Victor Sant could be sufficiently bribed.  Probably.
True, for a nice bit of paper he'd make a script, but the thing with Victor Sant is compatibility, there aren't many other things that are friendly with his scripts xD

1) The Tales of Battle system : I hope someone can make a tales battle system.
I'm pretty sure there was one on RPG Maker XP. But having someone port or make one on Ace...? Hahaa, good luck. Though if there's one already that I don't know of then, well xD
 

Silent Darkness

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I'm all for challenging the mind, but i'd say that a good way to challenge the mind late game, would be to put a somewhat lax time limit on attacking or doing something. Thinking is one thing. Faffing about is something else entirely.
 

Archeia

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I'm all for challenging the mind, but i'd say that a good way to challenge the mind late game, would be to put a somewhat lax time limit on attacking or doing something. Thinking is one thing. Faffing about is something else entirely.
I'd say that game has bad game design then or just easy/predictable. Have you played the SMT series especially against the Demi-Fiend, Hitoshura? Most of the time you get stuck in mid-command and thinking hard what to do on your next turn. And there are twists in enemy strategy that breaks your pattern against them.

This isn't competitive chess where they had to add a timer just to make it a lot more challenging. Where everything is predictable when two pieces are in specific board positions and you can own the game.
 
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Wtf1555

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If is grind with tons of enemies with much Hp,and take hours for just pass,some little spaces (Legend Of Legaia).

very unbalanced,just become annoying.
 

Berylstone

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I'd say that game has bad game design then or just easy/predictable. Have you played the SMT series especially against the Demi-Fiend, Hitoshura? Most of the time you get stuck in mid-command and thinking hard what to do on your next turn. And there are twists in enemy strategy that breaks your pattern against them.
That's what I would say also.

If you can be successful in battle by just faffing about then that's just poorly designed combat.  It's not something you can associate directly with a turn-based battle system.  

Boring combat mechanics can exists on any type of game after all, and adding a time limit wouldn't fix that.  It might also alienate players (like me) who don't like to feel rushed when they sit down to play a RPG game.  

If is grind with tons of enemies with much Hp,and take hours for just pass,some little spaces (Legend Of Legaia).

very unbalanced,just become annoying.
Definitely agree with you about that game.  It got boring fast and I didn't care much for the combo system either.  I rarely like the results when turn-based RPG games try to adapt action-oriented mechanics.  It almost always comes across as feeling like a cheesy half-baked action game wannabe instead of anything revolutionary.  But that is just my opinion.

The way I judge a turn-based battle system is pretty simple.  If it makes you think it's good.  If it doesn't, it's bad.
 
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Eschaton

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With encounters, less is more.  Have quality over quantity.  Go the extra mile and design each one to be different from the last.  And there should be never just one strategy to win.  Even turn-based games can play this way.
 

amerk

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Definitely agree with you about that game.  It got boring fast and I didn't care much for the combo system either.  I rarely like the results when turn-based RPG games try to adapt action-oriented mechanics.  It almost always comes across as feeling like a cheesy half-baked action game wannabe instead of anything revolutionary.  But that is just my opinion.
I've tried multiple times to get into Legend of Legaia, and failed. It always came across as having tried to copy Xenogears action-oriented turn-based mechanics, but failed to do so effectively. Even Xenogears became tedious, when round after round you have to insert a multitude of attacks just to land a proper blow.
 

Eschaton

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Legend of Legaia is one of those super-concentrated JRPGs.  It has an overly complicated and esoteric game system.  The characters look like human-grey hybrids.  Its story is ******ed (yes, I said ******ed.  Get over it).  It has overly-excessive use of "kiai!"

It's awful.

It's a fantastic example of how not to make an RPG.
 

orochii

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Poor Legend of Legaia. When I played it I thought it sucked, but I wanted to continue playing it.

By the way, play Beyond the Beyond. It's another wieeeerd game!

===

The battle design, let's see. You start simple, but let the player some options, so it never gets to attack till death, unless you have an "Auto" command, which, in the best scenario, will NEVER be useful and so you've added an useless feature to your battle.

No auto, no spam attack to win. No overcomplicated stuff. There is a difference between complicated and complex.

Right now those are my thoughts on the subject,

OZ
 

C Frost

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I only played Legaia briefly (once, on a rental), but I do remember it had a sort of "Xenogears, only not" vibe to it, which is bad because honestly, Xenogears' battle system was pretty boring anyway. It was just Final Fantasy with a coat of "action" paint (all the button presses), only without ATB and even slower paced than its FF contemporaries (VII through IX), and actively irritating once you realize the coat of paint isn't even actual paint but just some cheap transparent gloss (the button presses are utterly pointless because there is NO timing or execution whatsoever required to make the moves go off. You can literally hit a button, then wait for thirty seconds, then hit the next button in the chain, with no consequences). It simply adds an extra step in between selecting an attack and having that attack go off, a step that doesn't challenge you in any way or add to the gameplay experience.

That's what I would say also.

If you can be successful in battle by just faffing about then that's just poorly designed combat.  It's not something you can associate directly with a turn-based battle system.  

Boring combat mechanics can exists on any type of game after all, and adding a time limit wouldn't fix that.  It might also alienate players (like me) who don't like to feel rushed when they sit down to play a RPG game.  

Definitely agree with you about that game.  It got boring fast and I didn't care much for the combo system either.  I rarely like the results when turn-based RPG games try to adapt action-oriented mechanics.  It almost always comes across as feeling like a cheesy half-baked action game wannabe instead of anything revolutionary.  But that is just my opinion.

The way I judge a turn-based battle system is pretty simple.  If it makes you think it's good.  If it doesn't, it's bad.
I seem to recall Legend of Dragoon having a timing component, wherein if you hit the right attack button at just the right time, it would extend your attack, though I didn't get very far in that game (the story and world didn't grab me at all). 

The one time I've seen this kind of thing implemented with real success is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The original Mario RPG had bits of this with certain moves, but Saga makes it a staple gameplay mechanic, with dodging, countering, and extending attacks something you do regularly throughout most battles with properly timed button presses. The result was actually pretty fun. 

Other than that, I kind of agree that adding action-y elements into a turn-based battle system usually ends up feeling like those elements were shoehorned in and don't really work very well. Excepting the rare success such as Superstar Saga, it's better to stick to what your battle system actually IS (i.e. turn-based, ATB, or what have you) and focus on making it interesting within that system. Leave the action stuff to games that go all the way with action battle systems, i.e. Star Ocean/Tales or Secret of Mana. 

I also agree with you that there is nothing inherently boring or bad about any particular overall type of battle system. It really just depends on what you do with it. Certainly, tactical RPGs let you "faff about" as much as you want while deciding what to do when one of your character's turns comes up, yet I've never heard anyone say that Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre are boring because of that. In fact, charge turn systems appeal to me for my own game ideas, because they allow for more emphasis on planning ahead. ATB is great and all, I've enjoyed many an FF game (and my favorite in the series is IV which introduced ATB), but the nature of it takes the focus away from planning several steps ahead and trying to set up a sequence of actions that work to your advantage, and conversely puts more focus toward quickly reacting to what the enemy just did. I've played more ATB games than CTB games, which is why I want to use the latter for my own project (because it's something different than what I'm used to), but on the whole, both systems are good and can be fun if implemented well. But I don't see CTBs being inherently less interesting simply because there is no real-time component.
 
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Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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basically, they have their own niches...


Full wait turn-based => allows you to have all the time to plan


CTB => Semi-Full wait... especially when the turn order is visible it becomes Full wait + you can see who's gonna act when...


ATB => You need to be someone who can think of dynamic strategies fast


and nothing on that is inherently bad...


when I'm kinda on my slow days I like Full waits / CTB... when I'm feeling good I want ATB...
 

Chaos Avian

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I'd say that Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light/ Bravely Default throws a nice swing on turn based gameplay.

"One of the core aspects of gameplay is the option to both "Default", an option which allows the player to store battle points for later, and "Brave", in which the character selected unleashes multiple attacks in a single turn."

Keep in mind that "Default" is essentially "Guard", so it's really helpful. Heck you can even Brave up to -4, but then you'll have to wait 4 turns before you can act. Very good for finishing off a boss or finishing normal battles quickly~
 

Necromus

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First of all, I'd say a lot of the things that might make a battlesystem weak/bad you name it, is based on opinion.

One might like a certain battlesystem, someone else might not.

However, I think there are a few things, that probably contribute to every kind of battlesystem.

- pace

- tuning

- complexity

- repetition

Just to name a few really important "gears" in the big battlesystem machinery.

Those aspects are all somewhat intertwined, so one of them beeing a certain way (as in slow paced for example), doesn't make the over battlesysem instantly good or bad.

I really like fast paced battlesystems, but if that means you get easily overwhelmed by enemies, then thats a bad thing (tuning/comlexity). If enemies are too easy, then it becomes repetive and boring pretty fast (tuning/repetition).

If the way you execute attacks is really complex (some sort of multilayered combo system maybe), but you never really have the time, or the need, to actually use that system to its fullest capacity, because enemies die too quickly, then that is of no use either (tuning/pace/complexity).

You can go on with examples like that for quite a while, just shows how much there really is to think about, when designing a battle system.

I know, that a pretty common..."thing"...i guess...in the RPG maker scene is the dreaded "auto attack only" battlesystem.

Not that many people use those systems by default, just that a lot of people try to make their battlesystem different in some way, while basicly just introducing new/other problems.

I see that a lot, even in this thread, that "no auto attack spam" is something people consider as some sort of baseline for a battlesystem.

But that auto attack spam is simply one thing, the most effective way to be fighting.

There will always be that one way to do things, the one that is most effective, it just comes down to how you ...desguise... that I guess you could put it.

Comming up with something that everyone likes is impossible, something that goes by some sort of good balance of certain guidlines isn't tho, even if it takes a lot of thought and work.

Long story short, there aren't much things, that are bad by default, its all a combination of things.
 

Eschaton

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I'd say that Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light/ Bravely Default throws a nice swing on turn based gameplay.

"One of the core aspects of gameplay is the option to both "Default", an option which allows the player to store battle points for later, and "Brave", in which the character selected unleashes multiple attacks in a single turn."

Keep in mind that "Default" is essentially "Guard", so it's really helpful. Heck you can even Brave up to -4, but then you'll have to wait 4 turns before you can act. Very good for finishing off a boss or finishing normal battles quickly~
Because JRPGs are just too good for mundane words like "wait," "guard," "standby," or even a word as awesome as "bide."Nope, they have to use "default," instead, which doesn't even fit the context. You'd have to invent a contextualization, and that violates the concept of parsimony.
 
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Chaos Avian

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Why do RPGs even have a wait command?? The only game this made sense in wad SMT Digital Devil Saga1-2 and that passed your turn to the ally in the line up.

Because JRPGs are just too good for mundane words like "wait," "guard," "standby," or even a word as awesome as "bide."

Nope, they have to use "default," instead, which doesn't even fit the context. You'd have to invent a contextualization, and that violates the concept of parsimony.
You know how the Japanese like to do things differently even if it makes no sense xD like Engrish...
 

Berylstone

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I only played Legaia briefly (once, on a rental), but I do remember it had a sort of "Xenogears, only not" vibe to it, which is bad because honestly, Xenogears' battle system was pretty boring anyway. It was just Final Fantasy with a coat of "action" paint (all the button presses), only without ATB and even slower paced than its FF contemporaries (VII through IX), and actively irritating once you realize the coat of paint isn't even actual paint but just some cheap transparent gloss (the button presses are utterly pointless because there is NO timing or execution whatsoever required to make the moves go off. You can literally hit a button, then wait for thirty seconds, then hit the next button in the chain, with no consequences). It simply adds an extra step in between selecting an attack and having that attack go off, a step that doesn't challenge you in any way or add to the gameplay experience.

I seem to recall Legend of Dragoon having a timing component, wherein if you hit the right attack button at just the right time, it would extend your attack, though I didn't get very far in that game (the story and world didn't grab me at all). 

The one time I've seen this kind of thing implemented with real success is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The original Mario RPG had bits of this with certain moves, but Saga makes it a staple gameplay mechanic, with dodging, countering, and extending attacks something you do regularly throughout most battles with properly timed button presses. The result was actually pretty fun. 

Other than that, I kind of agree that adding action-y elements into a turn-based battle system usually ends up feeling like those elements were shoehorned in and don't really work very well. Excepting the rare success such as Superstar Saga, it's better to stick to what your battle system actually IS (i.e. turn-based, ATB, or what have you) and focus on making it interesting within that system. Leave the action stuff to games that go all the way with action battle systems, i.e. Star Ocean/Tales or Secret of Mana. 
I remember the timing mechanic you are talking about with Legend of the Dragoon.  At first it wasn't too bad.  But it eventually became tedious and started to really get on my nerves.  

I've never played Superstar Saga.  So that might be an exception like you say.  If I ever get enough free time on my hands I might see if I can find it for rent and give it a whirl.

I did try out the Super Mario RPG game though and disliked the parts where it tried to be a platform game.  It just felt very clunky and imprecise, and frustrated me.

There will always be that one way to do things, the one that is most effective, it just comes down to how you ...desguise... that I guess you could put it.
I agree with much of your post.  But this part has me baffled and I'm not sure if I am understanding it accurately.

Because I think it's quite possible to design a battle system where various strategies are effective, rather than just a single one always ending up as the preferred method.
 

Kes

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Because I think it's quite possible to design a battle system where various strategies are effective, rather than just a single one always ending up as the preferred method.
This may not be what Berylstone was implying, but reading that last sentence, I thought - no matter how a battle system is designed, people will try and bend it to their preferred way of playing.  And nothing wrong with that.  If we want to provide a game that people enjoy playing, then this is what will happen.

But then I started thinking about the whole issue of 'choice'.  Some battle systems give you a huge range of choices: skills, combos, weapons, you name it, and there will be a significant number of choices available to you.

The problem with that is what is shown by the extensive research carried out on the whole issue of consumer choice.  We tend to think that having lots of choices is a good thing.  However, the research consistently shows that when the number of choices available goes above a surprisingly low number (typically 6, though I have occasionally seen higher figures given), people find it very difficult to choose between them and fall back onto a narrow range which they then consistently pick.  That applies in the retail sector, but I would be surprised if it didn't also apply to elements of our battle systems.  Give people some choice and they are likely to try a high percentage of them, just to see what they are like.  Give them a very big choice, and they are likely to end up using only a small selection of them - and that becomes the "preferred method" you referred to.
 

Berylstone

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This may not be what Berylstone was implying, but reading that last sentence, I thought - no matter how a battle system is designed, people will try and bend it to their preferred way of playing.  And nothing wrong with that.  If we want to provide a game that people enjoy playing, then this is what will happen.

But then I started thinking about the whole issue of 'choice'.  Some battle systems give you a huge range of choices: skills, combos, weapons, you name it, and there will be a significant number of choices available to you.

The problem with that is what is shown by the extensive research carried out on the whole issue of consumer choice.  We tend to think that having lots of choices is a good thing.  However, the research consistently shows that when the number of choices available goes above a surprisingly low number (typically 6, though I have occasionally seen higher figures given), people find it very difficult to choose between them and fall back onto a narrow range which they then consistently pick.  That applies in the retail sector, but I would be surprised if it didn't also apply to elements of our battle systems.  Give people some choice and they are likely to try a high percentage of them, just to see what they are like.  Give them a very big choice, and they are likely to end up using only a small selection of them - and that becomes the "preferred method" you referred to.
I agree that players will develop their own style of playing.  So if that is what Necromus was saying then I'm in agreement.  

My only point was that I do believe it's feasible to avoid having that single most effective way to play a game.  In other words, I think it's possible to allow many strategies rather than just a single cookie-cutter one that ends up trumping all others in terms of effectiveness.  

But that may have not been what he was saying.  I wasn't sure if I understood him correctly.
 
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amerk

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By the way, play Beyond the Beyond. It's another wieeeerd game!
Considering this is a discussion about the weakest part of an RPG Battle, mentioning Beyond the Beyond is spot on. The game has probably one of the most boring battle systems I have ever seen, not to mention being sucked into a battle every 2 or 3 steps. Add to that trying to solve puzzles, and it creates an aggravating experience.

That could have easily been avoided if they reduced the encounter rate and upped the EXP and Gold drops. Not to mention, but the boss fights drag on for 15 minutes on the short end to around 45 minutes on the high end.

Which is too bad, because outside of the horrible battle system and encounter rate, it's a decent rpg.
 

Necromus

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ksjp17 is right, that's what I ment.

Like I said, its just auto attack in disguise, so to speak.

There will always be something, that is more effective than other things, there is no way to prevent that.

Just that very thing shouldn't be the same in every situtation, so auto attack shouldn't be the way to go for everything.

Stuff like different elemental attacks beeing the best thing to use, depending on the situation for example.

There will always be a strongest/most efficient skill/spell to use, but it shouldn't always be the same.

I guess most people that try to prevent the auto attack spam issue just end up doing the same, by introducing some sort of really good skill, that will still be used most of the time.

So back to square one, auto attack in disguise.

Like I said before, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when designing a battle system, and coming up with something perfect is impossible (in my opinion atleast).

Doesn't need to be perfect tho, just the disguise needs to be a good one, so to speak :)
 

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