What if...You Aren't Allowed to Kill ANY Enemy?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by 162, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @SPP

    This is not the place for taunting. Please try and keep the discussion constructive.

    As far as I can see, no one is saying that people don't like hard games. It is other reactions that are causing concern e.g. there are some ways of handling this which are pretty tedious for the player. There is also the question of giving the player only the illusion of choice because anything other than the "right" choice leads to sucky outcomes, and how can one creatively avoid that.
     
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  2. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Oh hey, 162, I know you from the Pavilion, right? :)   It's been a while since I've seen ya there!

    My first instinct is that I'd hate such a game.  No one likes living in a "world of cardboard" where they have to be careful about stretching their arms out because she's so strong they might accidentally bump and kill something.

    With that being said, if you have some way in mind to make the player still feel like she's able to fight the things that are trying to hurt her, and also to make it relatively easy for the player to not kill anything, then there are probably ways it could be a good game.  My instinct, based on the types of questions you're asking and also the fact that your game is an ABS, is that you don't have a great way to do this yet.

    So you might want to drop the "can't kill enemies" mechanic and just go for a softer presentation, where defeating a monster/enemy in battle is framed as beating them up or simply disabling them, rather than killing them.

    Or, if you do want to make it into a mechanic, you could, for example, make it so that doing a certain amount of damage to an enemy (let's say, reducing them below 33% of their max HP) knocks them unconscious, whereas doing even more damage (knocking them all the way to 0%) kills them and allows the demon inside your character to take over a little more of her.  I would recommend going the route that bgillisp suggested, having each kill cost your character a bit of her soul rather than instantly throw a game over - and I'd recommend adding gameplay consequences in additon to the different endings, reflective of the spiritual pain you feel as the demon takes over.  One thing to be careful about - since this is an ABS, it's harder than a turn-based system to choose your targets.  Enemies are going to die as unintended collateral damage every once in a while.  You might want to have defeated (but not killed) enemies fade away or "scamper off" after a few seconds.
     
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  3. 162

    162 Moop Veteran

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    Wavelength! Very good to hear from you! Yeah, I've kinda been avoiding the Pavilion due to my embarrassment of my "ZOMFG I'm so political and am essentially a social activist" phase during college... :headshake:

    As for the ABS thing, Quasi on here is developing code for that (which already looks good from a tactical/action hybrid standpoint with the spell/skill targeting). I'm kinda banking on that, but I'm honestly willing to change interfaces if necessary. As for the targeting concern you also mentioned, I was thinking about taking a sort of Deception approach and only having a handful of enemies at most trying to kill the player in a sizable area. (That same concern actually came to me, too.)

    Needless to say, the "can't kill anything because you'll get a game over" bit has been dropped like a greased-up anvil baby, and I'd likely go the route of "killing x amount = x amount of soul" (conversely, I'm thinking that saving people might have the reverse affect on the soul status). But what you just said about HP being under a certain level knocking someone out kinda reminded me of the health system in (the uber-obscure horror game) Illbeed. In that game, a person can die from two ways: heart rate being too high, bleeding too much, and just plain old depletion of health. I like the idea you pitched hear about losing health being a knock out, and think that maybe Chrispy's idea of a status bar replacing a magic bar could also play into that somehow. (Like losing a given amount of stamina could start whittling away at health gradually or vise-versa.) Scampering off of downed enemies might definitely be a thing. What's more, I'm thinking that boosting a certain stamina or using a certain move at a certain time could result in an enemy retreating.

    I've been thinking about how the demon overtaking Dahlia could affect the gameplay. Maybe the more the demon controls her, the higher chance a player has having the demon force the character to do things like go after retreating enemies or something.
     
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  4. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    One idea that came to me overnight that might help too...I'd consider putting in an option for redemption. Maybe she can do some actions that negate an accidental kill or two or three and reduces the counter. Maybe you could do this on an aligment system, where she starts in the middle, each kill takes her closer to take over and each good action takes her closer to good (or redemption or...). This way the player could cancel out a few mistakes, but it would take work.
     
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  5. 162

    162 Moop Veteran

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    Will definitely put into the game!
     
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  6. Accendor

    Accendor Veteran Veteran

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    Actually, this is not true. You could begin that game in this way and e.g. after the third time, when the player things "ah, I know how I have to play when I want the good ending, kill no one!" suddenly NOT killing an enemy will result in a big tragedy while actually killing that enemy could lead to some serious character development (e.g. Duty VS Guilt etc).

    With good story writing this could be very entertaining.

    While this idea is not bad I think it is important not to use too obvious choices here that make everything a matter of "good" or "evil". This would make everything predictable again and I think this is not good if you want to use this kind of story / system.

    I know you never said that he should go for a binary good/evil system, I just wanted to emphasize this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2015
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  7. 162

    162 Moop Veteran

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    Exactly!

    Noted.
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Good to hear from you too!  I do think that if you returned, people would be more likely to be happy to see you back, and wouldn't be thinking "oh great there's that really political 162 again". :)

    These sound like good ideas.  To piggyback on them, moves that target an enemy's "stamina bar" could be a second way to knock them unconscious without actually hurting them (if an enemy is out of stamina they faint... perhaps the demon inside your character will cause her to draw from her own life instead of fainting, since if she passes out in the middle of a group of enemies she's dead), and maybe you could have some kind of "fear" mechanic where if you make enemies scared enough with certain moves or threats they will run.

    Yeah, I was having some trouble thinking of good mechanics for this as well.  I might recommend against forcing the character to kill, because - even though it would make sense theme-wise - it would create a vicious cycle where killing a few enemies would force you to kill more and this would eventually lead to the inevitable game over.  (I'm assuming you're using a semi-normal kind of Save system, which would mean that the player could very easily lock himself into this almost-unwinnable situation.)  Among a couple of the ideas I had for it, and I'm not sure if they're good so evaluate them yourself, but:

    • Opening her soul up to the demon is what allows her to feel Fear, so the more enemies she kills, the more vulnerable she is to Fear from enemies, which will cause her to panic and move/take actions at random for a few seconds.
    • As the demon starts to take over she starts to feel more Pain, reflected in something like fewer Experience gains or lowered amounts of Healing.  In addition, you could add minor interface screws, such as the screen blinking red when she tries to heal.  This is something that might work better as a short-term effect.
    • Or maybe this demonic presence causes enemies to spawn in greater numbers or come after her with more aggression?

    I totally agree with bgillisp and I'm glad you're putting this in there!

    The interesting advantage you have here is that you can define your mechanic simply as the demon is taking you over versus the demon is not taking you over (maybe call it "Pure" versus "Corrupt").  Story-wise, you can define the separation of this from good/evil; perhaps the player will find himself in a situation where (and you'll need to adjust it to your world of course) he clearly needs to use lethal force to save an innocent hostage or something.  Most would call saving the hostage the "good" course of action, but this situation presents a quandary where by killing even the most evil of people you are corrupting your own soul.  What does a player who has avoided killing to this point do when faced with such a painful choice?
     
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  9. Manofdusk

    Manofdusk Veteran Veteran

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     I've just recently picked up RPG Maker again and the project I'm working on follows a similar theme. Except here there is a difference between enemies killed in self-defense and those who are slaughtered.

     The brutal/evil attacks make it easy to "win" fights... at a cost. Brutal or evil (or both) attacks have a common event attached to them that lowers the main character's alignment/reputation if used.

     You could use similar common events for your attacks.

     See, the thing that would bug me most about playing this sort of game is that Self-Preservation is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. Killing to protect your life is not an evil act. However, using dark powers IS.

     So my suggestion would be to peg the Dark Powers you get with a common event that lowers your alignment and have quests that can raise it.

     Depending on what the setting is, you can create "subdual" techniques like Chrispy mentioned and make it so that enemies use either the escape or "pass out" abilities once their HP/MP reach certain levels (escape for HP, "Pass Out" for MP).

     This allows you to force enemies to run away instead of killing them.

     However, I would suggest against that many random battles if you go this route. Forcing players to slog through random encounter infested dungeons while simultaneously trying to fatally injure as few people as possible would not be enjoyable.
     
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  10. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    remove random encounters from your narrative, write down every pivotal battle, and trigger a dialogue cutscene after each victory.

    that way, you don't "kill" enemies, you just face whatever opponent is specified in the script, manage the outcome, and the game continues on even after that.

    "Death" is not "death" per se in the game, it's just a state, where anyone entering that state through getting their HP reduced to 0 gets a bunch of new modifiers to their actions.

    as long as you keep an actor present in front of the player's view after the battle, that actor is still "alive".

    change the "death" state to something else, and you're clear.

    if "death" is still a thing in your game, fine.... write down a handler for that, call it game over or whatever.

    BUT, prevent your players from randomly escaping a battle, and allow them to escape a battle only when enemies are incapacitated.... say, stunned, asleep, paralyzed, whatever.

    that's doable without resorting to scripting.
     
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  11. Falcon At

    Falcon At Veteran Veteran

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    Here's my take:

    • Visual HP bars is required. 
    • Dahlia has a permanent counterattack trait, to force the player to damage an enemy. 
    • Find a way for enemies to survive powerful attacks with 1 hp. A buffer is needed if you are dealing with counterattacks. 
    • Dahlia has critical hits. Critical hits are terrible for the player and force the player to think on their feet. 
    • "Non-lethal" solutions are really "semi-lethal." They still do some damage. Player must balance risk with reward. 
    • Keeping allies alive would also be a concern. Permadeath would fit in the game's theme, but would be very harsh and hard to plan the story around. However, having readily accessible death-ending medicine on hand would break the whole setting. Who cares who you kill if you can just resuscitate them? You could make an ally's death a gameover condition (which would make even having them in the battle party be another risk/reward choice.) 
    • Only low level enemies heal themselves. This helps the player. 
    • Some enemies are machines or zombies--mindless and do not count as a kill. This means they can be taken out using different methods. They might even be immune to the methods that a player normally has access to. 
    • Some bosses may harm themselves on purpose. 
    As for story points:

    • As the game goes on, the worst enemies will be the ones that KNOW she doesn't want to hurt them. They are there to force her to kill them. Maybe they are brainwashed. Maybe they are trying to free their unholy god. 
    • The final boss could be the demon itself. Either a: it's a cakewalk because the Dahlia doesn't need to hold back anymore, or b: it's difficult, because all of Dahlia's equipment and skills have been dedicated to REDUCING her combat effectiveness and now she doesn't have the demon's bloodlust aiding her. 
    • A core aspect of Dahlia's character seems to be her morality. Even justified killing is bad and weakens her resolve. This is a very human trait, but don't overdo it. Nobody wants to play a game with a main character does nothing but moan. 
    • Make party members (if you have any) contrast with or inspire Dahlia. A "do what you can to survive" type would be a neat character to play off of her morality (I'm seeing a combat medic kind of dude, myself.) 
    • I think you should just call the game "Dahlia". I like the name. 
     
    #31
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