Undecided on whether or not to include combat

Jennavieve

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I'm working on a Dark Fantasy/Horror game and I'm kind of on the fence regarding the implementation of combat. I'm leaning more toward not having combat because I feel like it could break the immersion of the creep factor of the game. I think it would give more of a sense of immediacy to the game's dangers if they're all present right on the map (traps, creatures that can just outright deal damage to the player if you touch them, etc.).

However, part of me wants to include combat because my original vision included a major boss battle at the end of the game between the heroes and villains. I think I could come up with an alternate in-map kind of challenge between them instead of a traditional battle so I think I could work around that. But another concern I have is that interesting battles are an important aspect of gameplay to many people and I don't want the lack of combat to turn people off from the game.

I'd love to hear some opinions from the community. Would no combat be a deal-breaker for you or possibly make the game more appealing? Would implementing a combat system diminish the horror elements? The story and characters are also definitively the most important aspect of the game if that makes a difference.
 

EpicFILE

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I think the main interest of a creepy game is audio.
The sound of footsteps, creaky doors, water drops from the faucet, etc.
It's about making the player fully immersed in that creepy vibe (Silent Hill 2 is a great example).
In this case, including battles would be somewhat immersion breaking imo.
Better to have creatures attack you on the fly.

If you want to include battle, maybe try to make the game more like Onimusha.
It's an action game with puzzle heavy element, but have a little creepy atmosphere.
You don't have to make your game an action game, but at least you can see it as a reference. :)

Honestly it depends on your priority.
Do you focus on the immersive creepiness or fun game with some creepiness?

Personally I find Onimusha to be cooler. :D
 

Black Pagan

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Have you considered something in between ? Like Player Stats on the Map with Hearts or bars representing Health. For every Damage the Player takes in an encounter, The Health bar depletes gradually. You could perhaps let the player heal up by finding items around the place.

I think something as simple as this would suffice for a Horror game, If that is what you want, It would also feel semi-realistic, Almost similar to
a combat encounter.

On the other hand, If you feel your Game story is Encounter based and less Story based, You could always include combat in the form of Auto-battle. (I know it sounds lame but auto-battle done right could be great). Its a way of telling the player - "Worry about Mystery and Horror elements, Combat will be taken care of for you". Combat can be fun sometimes.

Example : You encounter a spider. You kill it in 2 Hits with very fast actions. Many people would argue dropping the combat entirely but I disagree. This "Feels easy smacking the spider twice" aspect motivates the Player into playing more, Players just seem to feel good when they are winning !
 

Jennavieve

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I think the main interest of a creepy game is audio.
The sound of footsteps, creaky doors, water drops from the faucet, etc.
It's about making the player fully immersed in that creepy vibe (Silent Hill 2 is a great example).
In this case, including battles would be somewhat immersion breaking imo.
Better to have creatures attack you on the fly.
I'm 100% with you here. I think the sound goes a long way in carrying the atmosphere of the game and I have put a lot of thought into the BGM music I've been using. I do need to add more in the way of sound effects though. And Silent Hill 2 is probably my favorite horror game so that's definitely the kind of vibe I want to have going for it, a little more toned down though.

Honestly it depends on your priority.
Do you focus on the immersive creepiness or fun game with some creepiness?
I'd say I'm going for immersive creepiness with a bit of comedic relief mixed in.

Have you considered something in between ? Like Player Stats on the Map with Hearts or bars representing Health. For every Damage the Player takes in an encounter, The Health bar depletes gradually. You could perhaps let the player heal up by finding items around the place.
If I'm going combat free then I definitely like this kind of idea. How do you implement a health bar like that though? I'm assuming I'd need some kind of plugin. Do you know of any available for MZ? I'm also planning on making items available to help the player out if I do go this route.

On the other hand, If you feel your Game story is Encounter based and less Story based, You could always include combat in the form of Auto-battle. (I know it sounds lame but auto-battle done right could be great). Its a way of telling the player - "Worry about Mystery and Horror elements, Combat will be taken care of for you".
That's an interesting idea but something I'd probably stay away from. Auto-battles usually feel lame and pointless to me. Although, I might just add one as comedic relief somewhere.

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts! This is helpful.
 

Black Pagan

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If I'm going combat free then I definitely like this kind of idea. How do you implement a health bar like that though? I'm assuming I'd need some kind of plugin. Do you know of any available for MZ? I'm also planning on making items available to help the player out if I do go this route.
Moghunter's Actor HUD Plugin does exactly that.
 

Frostorm

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Why not have on map battles / visible enemies? This way you don't have to transition to a battle scene, which breaks immersion. Perhaps consider an ARPG or TRPG system for your project? The latter is what I'm doing anyway heh. Regardless, I think it would be a missed opportunity to omit combat completely.
 

Jennavieve

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Moghunter's Actor HUD Plugin does exactly that.
That looks amazing thank you so much!

Why not have on map battles / visible enemies? This way you don't have to transition to a battle scene, which breaks immersion. Perhaps consider an ARPG or TRPG system for your project? The latter is what I'm doing anyway heh. Regardless, I think it would be a missed opportunity to omit combat completely.
I might try something like this. I'm still an RPG Maker noob though so it'll definitely be a challenge to implement properly lol
 

Finnuval

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I am one of those ppl who doesnt need combat in his games to have fun, so... Yeah, combat isn't necessary, imo.

Especially with a creepy, horror type game not having combat can add to the sense of dread as you, the player, can not fight back whatever is hunting you...

Thats my two cents anyway

EDIT: so sorry @Frostorm but i Gotta disagree with you xD i dontt think it's a missed oppertunity, Just a different oppertunity
 

Frostorm

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@Finnuval Oh hey! What happened to your monkey? lol

Yea I just reread and realized OP is going for a Horror genre, in which case I agree combat could be optional. I was thinking OP was going for a Dark/Fantasy genre, which I believe ought to have combat. When I think Dark Fantasy, I'm thinking of stuff like Baldur's Gate, Dark Souls, Diablo, & etc... (btw BG3 early access if quite good) hence I think combat should be included in those types of games.
 

Finnuval

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Oh hey! What happened to your monkey?
It got sold to the circus I guess lol

But yeah, I agree combat in those games is kinda important. But some games can go without (any telltale game for example lol)
 

duty

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If the game is more about atmosphere, puzzle solving, and being scared of things - then combat may not fit.

Fighting enemies gives the player a sense of agency in its conflict. It suggests that there's the hope that you may win.

It's far more frightening to know there's no way you'll survive a direct confrontation. You have to run and hide like the prey you are.
 

CraneSoft

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Traditional combat is only one possible gameplay you can implement in RPGs - and whether combat is needed completely depends on the type of RPG - horror RPGs? Simulation RPGs? Action RPGs? Survival RPGs? Lewd RPGs? Some of them don't need combat because that's not the core gameplay aspect of the games.

Like others have said, when it comes to horror games, you'd expect exploration/puzzle solving, jump scares, sudden deaths and avoiding enemies. That isn't to said you can't have horror RPGs without traditional combat, but most horror games can do fine without them and a player who likes horror games are very unlikely to be playing it because of the combat system, they play them for the tension and dread factor. If anything, survival action-oriented combat works better for horrors (Biohazard and Psycho Break).

People likes the traditional battles for the strategic aspect of them - if you have a clear vision on how to incorporate the horror elements into a battle mechanic they can work even if the battles themselves are completely puzzle in nature. Like everything else in development, this is based on how you execute them, and more importantly, if the mechanic actually fits into your game image.
 

Shikamon

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I think it depends on what kind of horror game that you are going to create. horror adventure doesn't need combat, maybe the combat was more focused on puzzle like rock-paper-scissors, which is quite fit when your game based on puzzle solving. horror action needs a lot of combat for sure.
Horror RPG feels like kinda different things like SMT series is considered horror but basically it's like pokemon haha.
 

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I'd like to mention that it doesn't just depend on the kind of game you want to make, but also the kind of horror you want to use. There are many genres of horror and they don't all involve solving puzzles in a spooky environment.

One of the big ones is survival horror - games like Resident Evil and Dino Crisis. These games have a lot of combat with a focus on resource management. Some of the horror is in what you are fighting, but a lot of it comes from limited supplies creating a sense of paranoia as the player runs low of ammo and med kits. The combat mechanics can also make the monsters scarier since you can see in the gameplay just how dangerous they are. It's pretty scary to see a new enemy that takes 5 bullets to go down and can inflict bleeding injuries that require both med kits to recover health and special medicine to stop the bleeding.

Another popular genre is cosmic/Lovecraftian horror - games like Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. These games may or may not feature combat, but can use combat to reflect the mental state of the main character. Excessive violence ties in nicely with loss of sanity and getting the player to rely on violence through combat mechanics can make enemies that ignore those rules very unsettling.

The biggest consideration is how you plan to scare the player and what you want the player to feel. You can play to specific primal fears by having enemies you can fight so it might be a good idea in some situations.
 

lianderson

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Don't do it!

Good day human.
 

h0tWalker

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As Basileus mentioned, there's multiple horror methods, just as its the different people playing them. To some people, Resident Evil is just a shooter, while others, a horror game. Some people get safety from weapons or feel more comfortable knowing they can potentially beat a monster, while others are still just as scared. It's a rough question, as it depends on the story you want to tell. I am one of those who prefer no combat in my horror games, but if it comes at the end and makes sense to the story, I'm all for it. Just needs to make sense as to why its there, and not come as a shock, that's how it'd break immersion for me at least.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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I've played different kinds of horror games and the same strategy doesn't fit all of them. If you look at the typical horror adventure games like The Witch's House, Mad Father and Ib for example, there isn't any combat because the game focuses more on exploration, story and puzzle solving. That's just how these games are... combat don't fit them.
I also played a game called Re:Kinder (very good game. I recommend you check it out sometime. It deserves some love) which had combat but it was well executed that it didn't feel like rpg battles, you know? The attacks are very simple like punch, slam, shout etc. and the monsters were obviously very powerful. You had to look at their attack pattern and devise a strategy that'll work against them using these terribly weak attacks.
Now, personally, I don't prefer battles in horror games that make the player feel powerful. The sense of vulnerability is what fuels the fear in a person. So if you must have combat, don't give the player that sense of safety that they can keep fighting back. The Silent Hill games did this well. You're given the chance to fight even while retaining the creepiness of the game. You can only fight when you have a weapon and when you don't, you're screwed.
So in the end, try to understand what type of horror your game is going for and then think if it will break the immersion for it. As long as it fits the game and doesn't break the immersion, having combat in horror games is fine.
 
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Celestrium

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It all depends on your game. You could make combat the same way as the rest of the game, with eerie music, sudden sounds, and the unexpected. Does it fit with the rest of the game though? I personally preferred Silent Hill or better even Clock Tower to Resident Evil. (Going with mainstream console games) How is it scary to fight with a machine gun and bazookas? That gives you a sense that you can fight back...it's way scary to only be able to hide or run...maybe set traps which hinder the encroaching darkness...
(I would love to see how your game goes, keep me posted!
 

SoftCloud

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Including a battle system could work if done thoughtfully. Though may not be what you're after. Through use of consistent uneasy ambience/music and each strike from the enemy can lad to bleeding and other ailments that could make the player uneasy. You can utilize modding the battle backdrops and enemies to darken and creepify the battles/encounters. I'd opt for front-view as the horror aspect can be retained. It's far more unsettling to see an undead staring at you than it vs characters on the screen (side-view). Depending on preference you too can add (sparingly) 'cut scene images'(and maybe scary sound effects) with various 'attacks' from the enemies to build shock of the player.
 

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No Combat is not a dealbreaker for horror game fans, in general. You are thinking along the right lines when you worry that adding combat - especially traditional RPG combat - to your game could break the tension and tone of your game.

If you can make the action flow well and not feel too frustrating to players who may have gotten all the way to your final boss but aren't good at the type of mechanic you're requiring for the final boss, then you can create a boss fight at the end by eventing action mechanics where you have to do something to damage the boss, and most likely avoid attacks, projectiles, or traps that the boss is using against you. This gives a feel of action and control to the player in the final battle, as well.
 

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