Things to avoid in your game

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ebanyle, May 13, 2019.

  1. Darth Equus

    Darth Equus Veteran Veteran

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    I'll add my greatest pet peeve: Bad grammar or punctuation. I can understand a missed comma or semicolon here and there, but when your characters appear to keep talking and talking in one long incredibly unbroken sentence moving from topic to topic so that no one has the chance to interrupt them, or the non-expressions "could of" "would of" are used alongside the wrong application of "your/you're" and "their/they're/there" it makes me see red, get angry, foam at the mouth and START GOING DARTH SMASH BAD GRAMMAR! RAAAAAAWWWWRRRLLLL! GAAAAAARRRRBBBLAAAAAAAARGH!

    Sorry... must have lost control of myself there. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Commas: "Come on, Eileen" becomes suggestive without that little punctuation sign right after "on". Also, -10 to respect to whichever dev/writer uses "u" instead of "you".


    But you know, as a dev myself, I'd like to present counterpoints to some the arguments presented here: (not saying you're wrong, just consider the following. Also, Cranesoft: please don't think of these as me arguing with you; I chose most of your arguments as they are both valid and concise)

    Random encounters: Seriously? This has been a staple/trope of the RPG since DnD, IMHO. I was raised on RPGs with random encounters, and they're fine with me as long as the rate is not frustratingly high. Legend of Dragoon had its encounters based on a timer, and it had an indicator on top of your character... but it felt like freaking Nurse Ratched coming to administer another dose of medicine at the specified time, whether you like it or not. Random makes more sense when I'm in a cave infested with territorial monsters or predatory fauna looking to get themselves a nice Cleric Steak with a side of sauteed Thief. Unless it's the boss of that area, don't expect an RSVP.

    Extra content after the final boss:
    I've already spent countless nights creating the narrative, the world, the characters, balancing the battles, giving you skills to both thwart and obliterate the creatures that would like to digest you before swallowing you, optional superbosses to test your mettle, the final challenge and a satisfying ending to make you feel happy when you return to the Shire, Frodo.... and it's not enough? Does a goodie or great challenge have to be unlocked after you slay The Evil Overlord Darkblade(TM) for it to count as a boon? Why can't it be enjoyed in the middle of the quest, at your choice? (Case in point: The Arkham games. Even if it lets you finish the sidequests you didn't during the main storyline, it evolves into monotony because there's nothing else to do upon completing them, and the rewards you unlock may feel inconsequential as there's no Big Bad Boss to take down anymore). I agree that "The End" must really mean THE END.

    Back to the title screen after dying: You darn kids and your easy modes! Back in my day we had to git gud! And we had to do it in 256 colors! And we had to share those colors with the background, uphill, barefoot in the snow, by thunder! But seriously, if there is no consequence for failing, what motivation do you have to get better? Once I got some more advanced skills in FFX around Macalania Woods, I had to keep making Auron threaten the chimeras into forfeiting their turns so that Yuna could cast her water-shield spell and Wakka attempt to blind them, because one of them could seriously wreck my party otherwise. (Checkpoints are a valid exception to this ramble, especially with a boss, though)

    No fast travel:
    On this one, I agree. I'm taking a cue from the Phantasy Star series in making foot travel to a destination to be mandatory only once (I made this overworld for you to enjoy, train and grow. It's part of the adventure, so don't cheat yourself out by skipping it). After arriving at the destination and/or defeating the main boss or a miniboss, the option to teleport back and forth between such town and the main hub is available at almost any moment, at no cost to the player.

    Status Spam: Let them try to spit poison, dark fog, confusion spells or what have you at my players, because I've given them the means and the option to protect themselves before anyone casts them their way, or actively prevent the enemy from doing so. You have the power, my child. Now go forth and slay them all, let God sort them out. In a few words: Make it a surmountable challenge, not a handicap, as Aesica stated.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  2. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Thing is, the way it was done leads me to believe it was possibly intentional...for the most part. Many of the monster drops produced small useful effects, like small healing, TP bonuses, minor MP recover, removal of a few ailments, and so forth while others did nothing. Because of this, I suspect the developer may have been going for "try it out and see if anything happens," as most of the key items were properly unusable. "Most."

    Either way, I felt it was worth mentioning because this sort of thing isn't hard to prevent from happening. Now as a design decision, I think it's pretty lousy and should be avoided.
     
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  3. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    Oh, boy. You should have kept playing. It only gets worse. Probably my favorite is Diablo herself, who has- apparently- become quite obsessed with her title as Lord of Terror and will use the word "terror" about three times in every single sentence.

    This is a big one. Not just RPGM games, but triple A and other indie games. It's like... there are dev's out there who just think "well, we gotta have crafting of some sort" and just shoehorn it into their game, regardless of whether it fits or even if they have any idea how to execute it in an interesting way.

    I worked on a triple A MMO once and they had pretty terrible crafting systems all around. Things certainly weren't helped by the fact that they lost ALL of their crafting team over time and they just assigned other dev's to do it (who hated it). What's insane is that their next planned game had a major bullet point for crafting in its pitch! Like... why!? And why did they include it in the pitch? Who were they fooling? (that game never made it past pre-production so... oh well).

    At any rate, the point is that crafting sucks. Don't do it unless you have a very good idea for it AND your game is over 20 hours long (or if your game actually revolves around crafting).

    Alright, so to add to the discussion I'll add my own point:

    Scope your game realistically! This one is kinda my cross that I bear, and it affects all dev's at every level of budget. I think this is pretty much the number one thing to avoid as it can affect your entire game even if you "succeed" and hit your goals. First of all, most games in RPGM flat out never get made because they go too big. But when they do get made, they often suffer in quality for it. Things get rushed or half-assed, or they're just so difficult that they inflate budget and dev time to unbearable levels. So please... please try to stifle your ambition, just a little. Especially if it's your first game!
     
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  4. Darkanine

    Darkanine ...In my thoughts and in my dreams... Veteran

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    These two I agree on wholeheartdly. Especially the first.

    I honestly really dislike on-screen encounters. I find battles much more stressful when I can actually see them, and I find that avoiding them on-screen takes up way more of my time then if they were actually random. I had this problem with the Persona series where I felt like at least 30% of the dungeon exploration sequences was just me hightailing it out of a room or corridor with a strong enemy (especially Persona 3 oh my God).

    Not only that, but I feel like random encounters give off a cooler vibe. Like, the baddies you're fighting are so bad, that they have minions waiting at every corner to take you down. That atmosphere is lost when you can see them.

    Though, Persona 5 does on-screen encounters pretty well by making them apart of the puzzle and Chrono Trigger is nice about making them apart of the environment but I feel like most do it in the most immersion breaking way.

    Post-game content is a tricky subject for me though. Sometimes I feel like it's done great, other times not, and I can't really piece together what makes some of it work, and some not. In the Pokemon franchise, it's a given. The heroes of Pokemon games aren't getting the gym badges to save the world, or become the master to save the world, they do it because they want to, and end up saving the world in the process. Since the storylines are about their desire, it makes since that once you defeat the Champion, that it's not just game over. Of course you'd do more things afterwards, so post-game just works there. It doesn't hurt that post-game in Pokemon games tend to be an extra 1/3rd of the game either.

    However, I played through an RPG called "Crystal Story II" a few times, and never really got far with the post-game content, because it's just generic fights against uber-hard bosses. There's no real desire beat them because, whats the award for doing so? Some good weapons? Experience? The games over, those aren't needed anymore.
     
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  5. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    To me, whether or not postgame content is a worthwhile inclusion in a game depends on how much the battle system allows players to express creativity. By “postgame content,” I’m assuming we’re talking about things like secret extra dungeons, exclusive tiers of new equipment, and epic superbosses to slay.

    If your game emphasizes story over combat and your characters gain power/abilities in a fairly linear manner, I probably won’t care that much about your postgame content. If there aren’t many ways for me to personalize my party, I’ve probably already seen most of what your characters can do by the time I’ve beaten the final boss. I’m probably not looking to grind for hours with that same familiar party just to have a chance of killing your superboss. I’m also probably not thrilled by the idea of fighting for dozens of rounds trying to whittle down the Dark Sponge Lord while he tries to wipe my party every second turn. If your combat has nothing unique going for it compared to the default system, I don’t always even want to play it for 5 rounds, let alone 50. And if I happen to wipe because of consecutive AoE nukes when the boss has 1% HP left, you can bet I’m just putting your game down and never coming back.

    The DS version of Chrono Trigger added postgame content which I skipped for some of the reasons above. Chrono Trigger is a lovely RPG and even has a nice combat system, but by the time I had beaten the story, I had maxed out all my characters and found my favorite party formations. Why bother going through those dungeons just for some equipment that would let me do all the same things with higher numbers? The postgame content didn’t open anything fundamentally new for either the story or the combat, so I decided to spend my time on other games instead.

    Now, if you’ve made a game which has lots of character customization options and some unique twists on combat, you’re much more likely to tempt me into that secret dungeon. Why? Because now I’m proving what my party, my creation, can do against the toughest challenges the game has to offer. I have much more of a stake in proving my mastery of the system, and I have more options for switching things up when the challenge gets too tough or grindy. And of course, I know I’ll feel a much deeper sense of satisfaction when I succeed.

    Bravely Default is the game that sucked me into its postgame content more than any other. It boasted over a dozen superbosses which you could collect via Streetpass/online transfers, each with their own unique mechanics and gimmicks. You were armed with a party of 4 characters that had access to 23 classes/subclasses, several dozen unique passive abilities, and a slew of different equipment options. I spent over 2000 hours learning how to craft “perfect” team compositions which could beat each and every one of those superbosses without relying on any of the “crutch” abilities that weaker players sometimes used to cheese them. I learned and shared so much online that my strategies redefined the popular metagame. The diversity of challenge and depth of customization made me want to prove that I had just mastered that game.

    Of course, not everyone enjoys chasing challenges the way I do, but I still think that having a combat system which allows some stylistic expression is an important prerequisite for postgame content. Bonus content is nice, but if you’re walling up the good bits behind hours of dry battles and grinding, I think it’ll be a tough sell for most players.
     
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  6. Darkanine

    Darkanine ...In my thoughts and in my dreams... Veteran

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    The party creation and customization point is something I never really considered, but I agree. In "monster collecting" RPGs like Pokemon, Digimon and Megami Tensei, I've always been interested in challenging the superbosses to see how my hand-picked team of monsters would fair against the toughest threats in the game.
     
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  7. CraneSoft

    CraneSoft Veteran Veteran

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    One thing devs usually go about "post-game" is basically just extra dungeons/bosses with higher numbers instead of something fundamentally different (heck, most of them are basically supped up versions of storyline bosses with palette swaps), and the general idea of beating them is grinding many, many hours and upping your numbers to match theirs instead of lets say, forcing you to figure out creative solutions using what you currently have. FFX is notoriously bad at this although those are not really "post-game" but are essentially the same thing.

    Unfortunately this ultimately boils down to personal preference whether or not the player in question is used to old-school RPGs or modern ones, and most of us grew up on random encounters. Some games work better with random (horror), others with on-screen (hunting). And random encounters are simply not well received in modern days anymore compared to on-screen ones to the average casual player unless your game is trying to be next great revolutionary literally aimed at 90's RPG hardcores looking for an awesome classic experience. The staple is of course completely valid if the game is intended to be that way.

    The challenge part to be unlocked after saving humanity(TM) is not a necessity per se, and I am aware this can't work with some stories due to nature of the ending like in Persona series (which pretty much forces you into NG+ for the "extra" part), but for those that can, IMHO this is preferable unless you want your final boss to be made a complete fool just because some players decide to do the optional superbosses first. What irks me is that from the perspective of a player that are actually looking forward to extra content, I wouldn't want to be forced to load a old save before the grand final battle after seeing the ending and then see the meteor magically reappear over the sky while I proceed to take my own sweet time doing horse racing to get that one uber god-killing sword, and pretending your efforts of killing the final boss never happened.

    Consequences for failing and losing progress by ending the game on the spot with a game over are very different things, and my point is about avoiding the latter. It doesn't have to be a game over if you lose a battle that isn't against a major boss (unless you have a VERY good reason to justify it like in the latter part of Nier) , as games like Dark Souls and Sekiro allow you to amend your past mistakes despite the unforgiving difficulty, and the latter having lasting repercussions beyond just losing stuff upon death.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  8. LycanDiva

    LycanDiva Villager Member

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    Mandatory Mini-Games: Most of the time, mandatory mini-games I've encountered are not very good or particularly well-implemented. FFX's Blitzball is a prime example, with its awkward controls and painfully slow gameplay. Thank goodness you only have to do it once (unless you want Wakka's full moveset), but boy is it painful to play. Kingdom Hearts' gummi ship is also a contender for top worst mandatory RPG mini-games. A forced genre swap might seem like a "fun way to spice up the gameplay," but not everyone wants to have their RPG interrupted for a shoot-'em-up or a rhythm game or a sports game that they have to play to continue the story. Mini-games that are mandatory to complete to get your party's ultimate gear is another sticking point for me...especially if they are really crappy or hard to control...*cough*FFX again*cough* (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the story and battle system in FFX, but its mini-games are just plain horrible.)

    High Encounter Rates for Random Battles: Look, random battles are fine...so long as you don't have the player stuck in a battle every 3 steps. This is especially bad in puzzle-heavy dungeons that have players going from room to room or area to area on the map. Lower encounter rates, encounter-free areas, and visible enemies all work better for puzzle-focused dungeons than having insanely high encounter rates all around. Encounter rates that are too high also lead to player frustration and fatigue, disincentivize exploration (no one wants to explore a big old dungeon or world map where they're getting mugged by enemies every 3 steps), and can make a generally good game feel like a chore to play. Small areas that have higher than normal encounter rates meant for level/gold/resource grinding or giving players the ability to raise or lower the overall encounter rate somehow is just fine...but don't make your entire game world into "the bad neighborhood."

    Playable Party Member Overload: Some RPG's can handle having a lot of playable party members well, like tactical RPG's and Pokemon. Others leave you with a bunch of underdeveloped characters who just exist to try and provide gameplay variety, but mostly just sit on the sidelines growing increasingly under-leveled over time because the player doesn't care for them and say nothing particularly different or plot-relevant during important cutscenes. A glut of possible party members can be a detriment to a traditional RPG story if you don't have the imagination or writing skills to make each one relevant or at the very least entertaining as individual characters.

    AI-Controlled Party Members: In my experience, party member AI tends to be incredibly dumb. They waste items and MP, they don't automatically target the most threatening (or even the same) enemy in a battle, and no matter what options the developers give you the AI never seems to be smart enough for basic combat strategy. If you want there to be an auto-battle option...PLEASE make it optional. Not everyone likes their party doing whatever they darn well like and having half the team killed off over the next two turns because you've run into that one annoying enemy that frequently uses an insta-kill move and your "buddies" REFUSE to gang up on that sucker like ANYONE WITH A BRAIN WOULD!!! *cough*Miitopia*cough*

    As for post-script missions/playable epilogues, it really depends on how they're executed. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete's playable epilogue has its own storyline that players who enjoyed the main story will tend to be very invested in (the ending is satisfying and heartwarming too). I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who is interested in playing the series, but it's an enjoyable mini-adventure with its own bonus dungeons, bosses, and missions. However, if you just go, "Good job, player, you won! Here's a whole new continent to go to for no real narrative reason!"...well, yeah, I can see why that would be kind of pointless. A playable epilogue/post-script mission should be somehow related to world-building or tying up loose ends left by the main story, so it's one of those tricky things that's hard to do right...like a large cast of possible party members and mandatory mini-games.
     
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  9. Ebanyle

    Ebanyle Veteran Veteran

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    Oh right, I forgot an important one:

    Weaker boss when they enter your party. You just finished battling up against a very strong foe, and then said foe decides to enter your party. However they don't have not even half of their stats in general: parameters, skills, etc. Of course this can be excused for some source of power they were using or whatever, which in said case I find completely plausible, but usually it's not - they were just strong when they were a boss
     
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  10. HexMozart88

    HexMozart88 The Master of Random Garbage Veteran

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    Ho boy.
    Battles being the only thing to do in the game: This can work sometimes, especially if they're really addictive. But goodness gracious, can I go anywhere without having to kill stuff? Battle, cutscene, battle, cutscene, over and over, that doesn't do it for me.
    Excessive button mashing: Timed attacks? Sure. Pressing a bunch of buttons in quick succession throughout the whole battle, especially when it doesn't tell me which buttons do what, gets boring really quickly. I suppose that's why I don't play fighter games.
    Massive HUDs and menus everywhere: I'm not going to wander around your maps with my sprite and a giant picture of their face obstructing my view of half the game. Especially when it's not an on-map battle. If I want to see how much HP my guy has, I'll pause the game, thank you. Also, aside from maybe a help window, I like to keep my menus simple. I'm not having six million windows on my screen, particularly in battle. Either give me a simple button prompt, or a simple picture menu. There's a point where it just becomes a popup ad.
    Overuse of voice-acting: I don't have a problem with voice acting in general, since it takes away some of the dialogue boxes obstructing my experience, but I think it should be used sparingly and for dramatic scenes only, or your characters' voices get really annoying.
     
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  11. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Isn't that the original point of the topic? XD

    Before I start, I just want to say I agree that endgame content, or at the very least the ability to backtrack into the world after defeating the final boss and seeing the last part of the narrative - even if there's no new content - is really nice to have in RPGs. I'll avoid discussing too much more here, since that's really a "do this" and not an "avoid this".

    Here's my Top Ten things to avoid in RPGs:

    1. Ambiguous Plot Flags - Plot Flags (find and talk to this person/find and do this trivial thing to advance the plot) are almost a necessary evil in RPGs, but the worst ones leave the player wandering around with no idea of what they need to bump into in order to continue playing your game. Don't force the player to look at a guide for something so trivial. When possible, allow the player to solve problems themselves without triggering plot flags first. If the player ever needs to do something trivial in order to continue on with the plot, make sure to guide them to the right place - for example have NPCs nearby mention where the plot flag is, and if the player spends a lot of time wandering outside of town, have a skit or similar to let them know what town the plot flag is in.
    2. Puzzles or Minigames as Obstacles - Puzzles and minigames can be wonderful diversions in RPGs but they are not what the player came for. Not all RPGers enjoy them. If you force the player to complete something they don't like in order to keep playing what they do enjoy, you are tanking the fun factor of your game (and if it's too hard for the player, they may put your game down forever).
    3. Forced Fanservice - It's an insult to your player to force fanservice down their throat, as if to say you know what they should be attracted to. Some players find it very uncomfortable. It's fine to have fanservice available outside or even inside your game (one of the beauties of an interactive medium) if players want to seek it out themselves. Don't force it on them.
    4. Reliable, Powerful Healing/Revives within Combat - The issue with reliable, powerful healing and revives is that they make it far too easy to erase mistakes, which completely destroys any need or incentive to come up with strategies in battle, and also tends to make battles much less compelling (because they can't build to a climax). Examples of reliable, powerful healing: A character can consistently use a spell (almost every turn) that heals the party for more damage than a boss enemy can deal on an average turn, An Action Battle System allows you to pause and use as many cheap healing items as you want, A character can revive party members with no penalty and most bosses don't have strong AoE abilities. As long as these healing/revive mechanics are in play, and the player chooses to use them, it really doesn't matter what else they do: they are going to win the battle easily.
    5. RNG Output - The (video game) RPG genre is notorious for making bad use of RNG-based luck. Things like RNG Hits/Misses are completely out of the control of the player, they don't offer hooks into interesting strategy or fun experiences, and they only serve to slow combat down and make it frustrating. Avoid any type of RNG influence (aside from slight damage variance, and of course RNG in optional minigames) that doesn't offer interesting counterplay opportunities. The much less common RNG input (e.g. procedural generation, random dungeons, random starting positions/resources in combat) can be a good thing when implemented purposefully, on the other hand.
    6. Instant Death - Outside of battle, it comes across as completely cheesy and unfair and can cause a player who hasn't saved in a while to lose hours of progress. Don't do it. Inside battle, it also comes across as completely cheesy and unfair, and is not as engaging as enemies that deal heavy damage (which would offer more interaction with all of your combat mechanics than Instant Death does).
    7. Wordiness - Excess wordiness is the enemy of powerful, punchy writing. Your player has come to experience something, not to read something per se. Text (especially well-written dialogue) can be an effective way to sell that experience, but keep the number of words to a minimum and be sure to get your point across.
    8. Complexity > Depth - Some systems and mechanics "seem cool" in concept but add lots of complication to the gameplay without adding to the number of interesting choices that most players will consider. These well-intentioned systems end up hurting gameplay rather than helping it, by taking the player out of the immersive experience without giving enough back. Anything that adds more complexity than depth needs to be streamlined or removed. Any time you add a mechanic or a system, be sure it significantly increases the pool of interesting options at the player's disposal, and that it gives the player a reason to use those interesting options. And make it as intuitive as possible.
    9. "Guess the Element" - The worst way to implement elements in your game is to give characters skills of varying elements and to assign enemies weaknesses and resistances to those elements based on "what makes sense to you in the real world" without making it extremely obvious to the player (by telling them outright or having something like a color-coded scheme) what those weaknesses and resistances are. Cycling through each element to figure out an enemy's weakpoint isn't interesting; trying to remember each one is even less interesting. Worse yet, this kind of elemental setup forces players to ignore most of their skill set in order to spam the one that's much more effective against a given enemy. Most games don't need an Elemental System. The few that do it well (Pokemon, Jade Cocoon, and to some extent Persona and Trails in the Sky) make Elements a true strategic consideration in battle that can be played around.
    10. Narrative Deaths of Playable Characters - Unlike other mediums where the audience are detached observers, in video games the audience (player) is directly invested in the fate of their characters. The player needs to believe he is in control in order to stay invested. If something really bad happens to the characters, the player will feel like he failed. While this can be a powerful emotional moment, the player can also mentally "rebel" against it (shattering the illusion they are in control) if they feel like the failure was unfairly handed to them, and in addition you've taken away a character the player had connected with. Permadeath through combat/gameplay can be okay if done well; character deaths through choices made can be okay if done well; forced narrative deaths of playable characters, on the other hand, are a case where the juice is never worth the squeeze.
     
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  12. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I'd say this really just falls into the "balance your game properly" category. Powerful healing and revives means that you need to up the strength of the enemies and their attacks if you want to continue challenging the player. I like to think of it as the heal/harm tug-of-war.

    To use another example from your list, instant death in combat is horribly unfair if raising fallen allies comes at some sort of cost, or is hard to do. But if your game has things like cheap phoenix downs or healers with full-party-raise abilities, a boss that uses instant death several times per turn becomes a lot less threatening. If a boss uses instant death at least once per turn, followed by some big aoe, even having those spammable raise skills still forces a tactical choice--does my healer use the aoe raise ability, or does he heal the living party members?

    Two of the tougher RPGs I've played (Epic Battle Fantasy 5 and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius) have strong full-party healing, and in FFBE's case, there's even things like full party 100% raise and full party 80-100% reraise. In order to remain challenging, it's very common for something to splatter one or more characters in a single turn.

    In fact, the opposite of this is something I actually dislike even more:

    Heal Starvation: The problem with this approach is that everything meant to be challenging becomes a damage-per-turn race/battle of attrition, in that you either hit the boss as hard as you possibly can, or each turn, you're worn down further and further. After turn 1, the party is somewhat weakened despite available healing/etc. After turn 2, they're more weakened etc until people start dying and everything falls apart. Victory vs defeat becomes less about tactical play and more about "I guess my side didn't club his side hard enough."

    - - -

    That said, I agree with basically everything else you posted, especially complexity vs depth, guess-the-element, and forced fanservice. I remember playing some flash game awhile ago that was a neat, well-polished defense-style game. I liked it right up until the point where the player character did some celebratory victory dance/animation/whatever by, uh "bouncing" her tatas before doing some sort of leap that resulted in a panty shot. I just closed the game right there and never looked back at it.
     
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  13. Henryetha

    Henryetha Veteran Veteran

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    Well, D3 is an ARPG, and those aren't supposed to focus much on the story and thus, I guess, they don't bother much with dialogues either.
    They are more about hack & slay, loot, ...
     
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  14. Switz

    Switz Veteran Veteran

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    1) Poor writing and Grammer
    2) Incredibly hard random encounter battles
    3) No universal party XP after battles for all members even if not used in battle. I know...realism...but ugh
    4) WAY too much dialogue
    5) No weapons/armor exclusively outside of stores. What's the point of exploration then?
    6) Weapon repair
    7) Kids/children characters whos vocabulary is primarily whining and saying Mommy! every time they talk
    8) Dog sprites that don't bark when action button is pressed
     
    #34
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  15. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    That's oddly specific. What if the dog just wants to growl? Or ask the player for a bacon wrap?
     
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  16. V_Aero

    V_Aero Veteran Veteran

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    I like this thread :)
    Okay, so I try my best to add some input.

    - Having too many chars I dont care in your party to swap. Especially when resting players never get XP. I never liked that
    - Characters who join you, but actually the whole story of your game could have been told without them
    - When you don't know where to go. Well, you don't need to plant quest markers all along the map like in most MMOs, but sometimes the last dialog is something like "oh a nice festival we should enjoy / dinner is almost ready, why don't you just wait a bit? / beach episode /…" and the only way to continue the game is to speak to a random person or whatever.. players need guidance
    - a crafting system which is too complex or just boring
    - excessive use of kill-and-gather quests
     
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  17. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    I also think these are generally great points, but to add my thoughts on the healing discussion, I think I agree with @Aesica that there are potentially lots of ways to design around this problem. In most of the RPGs I've played where healing is strong and consistently available, bosses have tricks up their sleeves other than damage to disrupt the typical damage -> heal -> repeat cycle. Aesica mentioned instant death as one option, but things like defense debuffs, heal blocks/reductions, Silences/stuns, turn order manipulation, summoned adds, etc. can all turn a safe healing loop into a situation where you're suddenly losing ground each turn. The challenge is then on the player to find a way to survive until they can return to a stable position, and I think the build and release of tension in this model can absolutely create climax moments during battle. Surviving will often involve spending additional resources (which you may still need later in the battle), reviving KO'd allies, applying special buffs, using items, supplementing healing with other characters, bursting down adds, etc. This means that the whole team potentially needs to switch up what they're doing and scramble to turn the tide back. In my personal experience, most memorable RPG boss battles involve these sort of moments in some way.

    Cheap revives with no penalty are a trickier question. I think we actually had this discussion once before and agreed that they can be appropriate in games where characters can potentially act more than once per turn, since the loss of action economy for the KO'd character is essentially the "cost" of the revive. Outside of that circumstance, I would tend to agree that making revives too convenient for players can detract from the tension and excitement of battles.

    Maybe it seems strange that I hold opposing opinions on the acceptable convenience of revives and heals, but I think the difference is that when characters are KO'd, that represents the beginning of the actual loss condition for players, and it's a point at which the player has made clear mistakes in the battle. Having to heal a character after they accumulate a large amount of damage doesn't necessarily represent a "mistake" on the player's part because most turn-based RPGs just don't give players the tools needed to mitigate all incoming damage. Even if you play perfectly, in most games you'll eventually need to heal just as a matter of course.

    And on that note, my feelings about instant death in battle are mixed. I don't think incorporating it is always poor design, but I definitely think it's something which should be used sparingly. When it is used, the player should have some means of counterplay available (e.g. buffs/equipment which block instant death, the Reraise status, a simple telegraph before the skill which inflicts it, a boss which only uses instant death while its adds are alive, etc.). I think instant death skills which can hit more than one party member at a time need to be clearly telegraphed, and that a chance for counterplay needs to exist between the telegraph and the follow-up.

    If your game follows the multiple actions per character + cheap revives model, I think having a handful of enemies who can use instant death is fine. As a mechanic, instant death can be useful as a tank-buster skill for bosses and for breaking down powerful defensive setups that let the player get too comfortable in battle. But I think it will always be frustrating when used in excess, so I probably wouldn't have it feature in more than a few encounters throughout a game.

    @Aesica

    Going back in the other direction, I'm not sure I agree that "battles of attrition" and "tactical play" have to be mutually exclusive. I think the tactics in these scenarios typically just revolve around how you distribute your resources between offense, defense and healing (assuming you've got a well-balanced system). The soft timer on the battles does encourage aggressive play (which I think is generally a good thing), but if strong offense is all you need to win these battles of attrition, then I'd call that a balancing failure rather than say the system itself doesn't work.

    I do think you need support classes who can do more than just heal if you want these systems to be fun. I wouldn't even necessarily think of them as "healers" so much as buff/damage mitigation specialists who can do some healing on the side. Going along with this, I think that the healing tools available should be powerful, but limited in their availability. It creates a sense of futility if your support character is spending every turn to cast weak heals which can't even keep up with incoming damage. I'd prefer a powerful heal which can reverse several turns' worth of damage, but which I can only afford to cast sparingly, or which is restricted by a cooldown/limited uses in combat. Then my support character can go back to doing other things once the immediate threat has passed.


    I've been working on balancing the healing dynamics in my own project recently, and I've come to believe it's one of the most complex and nuanced parts of designing battles. Even more so than usual, there are exceptions to pretty much any statement you can make about it, and everything really comes down to execution.
     
    #37
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  18. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    Right, but it's still possible to have a good story without it being the "focus". You can be succinct, subtle, rely on visual storytelling... a lot of things. I tend to think this is actually harder to do, actually.

    Thing is, though, that Blizzard has nigh unlimited resources and spent like 10 years making that game. AND they pride themselves on their quality. They have no excuse for having writing that's as bad (or worse) than an off-brand 80's Saturday morning cartoon. They also decided to put the story in the forefront and shove it in the player's face (much moreso than D2). So they put themselves in this position, too.

    I mean, the concept of XP isn't realistic in the first place :guffaw:
     
    #38
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  19. Henryetha

    Henryetha Veteran Veteran

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    I'm not disagreeing..
    Compaired with a certain other (indie) game of that genre, it's close to embarrassing, what they actually give here to the player.. (not only dialogue-wise).
     
    #39
  20. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Oh I agree that they're not mutually exclusive. I probably wasn't very clear, but I was specifically referring to games where the options are limited, where the player feels they have no real ways to counter various things other than "hit it hard enough to kill it before it kills you."

    The "healer" in my current project is a mix of healer and buffer with a few status ailments thrown in. He's also the only real source of light-elemental damage. His healing abilities are a low cost, but fairly average heal, a slightly above average aoe heal on ~3 round cooldown, a fast execution (I'm using an ATB system) slightly above average but costly heal on a cooldown, and an extremely powerful aoe heal limit break (accessible every ~10 turns or so).

    Now to add some complexity, the other party members have some form of healing intended to supplement this. The tank can counter-heal herself, the mage can drain HP, and the main character can off-heal. On top of that, I also intend for the player to maintain stat debuffs (atk/mag) as well as defensive buffs in order to make incoming damage manageable. Finally, there are also other forms of specific damage mitigation scattered throughout the game, such as a fire shield that buffs the party with a 1-turn fire resist effect when character using it guards.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that, by adding extra things to keep track of and maintain throughout the fight, the take-damage-remove-damage cycle becomes more mentally engaging and easier to disrupt due to mistakes.

    That said, I haven't quite gotten to the balancing phase just yet (still enduring the mapmaking slog) so things could end up quite different, but what I outlined is roughly what I'm after because I think spreading out the "healing duty" to more than just the trope healer adds a nice degree of complexity to the whole healing dynamic--provided the system is balanced.
     
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