What makes RPG combat fun?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Requiem, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Requiem

    Requiem Veteran Veteran

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    What makes grinding and RPG combat fun?

    Most people I think would say grinding is boring. But then you have MMOs. And then you have JRPGs where the majority of the time is spent grinding.

    You also have casual games also where the gameplay consists entirely of pushing on a button (e.g. Adventure capitalist).

    I think it helps cements the relationship that the player has with his/her characters... If you take care of a char for X amount of hours you're gonna be more likely to forgive horrible writing like "all ur bases r belong to us",, cliche plots, gaping plot holes, etc.

    It's always been a bit of mystery to me since I only do min/maxing to advance the story as fast as possible. I think the only RPG combat systems I enjoyed were things like FFX-2 where the combat was brisk, action oriented and supported my playstyle.

    Also hybrid systems like Valkarie Chronicles.

    but what says you?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Talk about reward. For some people (like me), grinding is psychologically rewarding. You see your character gets stronger, and/or unlock new skill(s) means more option for combat. Majority about people who complain about grinding because you see most of games require you to grind. And people who're fine with grinding keep quiet because, well, they have nothing to complain.

    And still about reward, battle that pushes the player into their limit and let em win also rewarding. What makes RPG combat fun could be anything based on various people preferences, but I think the basic idea is just about what the reward they give.
     
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  3. peq42_

    peq42_ Yeet Veteran

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    Griding.
    i feel really good when i level up my character in a game and see him walking and killing like a god in the middle of hordes of enemies(That's what made me spend over 900 hours in Path of Exile, until i got bored of leveling new characters and destroying old ones for not knowing how to build new builds)
     
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  4. WesdrasLink

    WesdrasLink Veteran Veteran

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    Give quests to kill a X number of monsters, and reward them with money and exp, also other prizes.
    A good battle system is necessary, make it not repetitive and be generous in rewards rate.
    In some games there are monsters that can give a LOT of exp, these monsters are hidden in some island or dungeon, and make status bonuses that can give more exp than the normal, like an item that doubles the exp in the end of the battles.
     
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  5. Titanhex

    Titanhex Do-It-All Veteran

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    90% of the answers you're likely to see play into the Power Fantasy philosophy.
    Players want to feel powerful. #bignumbers

    The problem with grinding is that it's monotonous and repetitive. Good game design has evolved to the point where grinding is broken up by quests and exploration, which generally help the play achieve Power Fantasy in more varied ways.
    In older games, grinding was broken up by loot drop systems, which gave the player a secondary reason to fight while still achieving their goal of a power fantasy. There was often a lot of cryptic and experimental ways to fight which made grinding more varied.

    So my question is how would you break up grinding to be more interesting, beyond just fighting to increase levels.
     
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  6. Martin_Arcainess

    Martin_Arcainess Emperor Veteran

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    The challenge!

    I like a challenge when fighting my foes, sure easy battles are fun and all but I enjoy something that pushes me beyond my normal play skill.

    Course, not an unfair challenge, it has to be reasonable.
     
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  7. Neo Soul Gamer

    Neo Soul Gamer Veteran Veteran

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    Simply put, accomplishing things WHILE your grinding makes it fun. To me, there has to be a reason for fighting that goes beyond getting experience and gold.

    One game that did this incredibly well (imo) was Grandia, which has spells that become stronger as they're used more in battle. (I pretty much stole that idea for my game.)

    There's plenty of ways to make battles more interesting. They key is providing multiple long-term benefits other than gaining levels.
     
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  8. hardytier

    hardytier Villager Member

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    I think the combat itself has to be fluid, but the enjoyment of grinding comes from outside the combat itself. For instance, in World of Warcraft, the combat never really changes, but you have pvp - an environment in which you can see who is better by split second tactical thinking. But you also have the hundreds of achievements in pve, like grinding for that one weapon just to say that you have it. I had to have put over a week of in game play time just to get Thunderfury, and there was nothing innately fun about steamrolling through a level 60 raid when I was level 90.
    I'm an avid FF'er myself. I platinumed (or equivelant) 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 13-2. The enjoyment definitely came from the satisfaction of knowing that I defeated a superhard boss, preferably in ways that others did not.
     
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  9. Frogboy

    Frogboy I'm not weak to fire Veteran

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    Grinding itself isn't necessarily fun. What always kept me interested in RPG battles in the olden days was not knowing what you were going to face next or knowing whether you'd survive the encounter. Dragon Warrior 1, Final Fantasy 1, the gold box D&D games, Ultima ... they did a great job at mixing together easy encounters with really hard ones. You get into one fight and breeze through it without blinking. The very next fight, you were on sitting there going, "Oh, crap. So and so is almost dead. Get that Cure off in time". It was really tense. As game progressed and got "better", they kind of lost that aspect. If you fought one battle in a certain area, you could pretty much gauge how tough all the monsters and battles were going to be. That suspense of getting into a battle and waiting for the monster to appear to see if you were in for the fight of your life kind of went away.
     
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  10. HumanNinjaToo

    HumanNinjaToo The Cheerful Pessimist Veteran

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    That's a good question. I think it largely depends on the content the player. When playing ESO, I pretty much burned myself out of the game after grinding a few characters to level 50 and doing the same few raids over and over again for new gear after that DLC that came out earlier this year. Before I got to max level in that game, it seemed more fun to me. After I began maxing my characters out, it seemed more like a chore to have to log in every day and do dailies. Ugh...

    However, I can sit down at least once a week and create a new "build" for DS3. I've probably played through that game over 100 times, easy. Yet somehow, that kind of grinding doesn't bother me so much.
     
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  11. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    RPG Combat can (and should, if designed well) be fun in the same ways that Video Games in general are fun. "Why it's fun" has never been a very well-explored concept in arts and entertainment (an academic psychologist would probably have the best answers), but I really like the MDA Framework as a tool for analyzing "how it's fun" in the medium of game design. See the 8 Aesthetics of Play on page 2, in particular. Extra Credits also does a good review of the Aesthetics.

    What kind of Dynamics in JRPG Combat might lead to the Aesthetics described? Here are a few examples for each Aesthetic:
    1. Sensation (Game as sense-pleasure) - Context-sensitive audiovisual feedback to depict combat, artistic character/enemy designs
    2. Fantasy (Game as make-believe) - Incorporation of world-building into combat, creative use of spectacular powers
    3. Narrative (Game as drama) - Storylines being advanced, or themes being explored in-depth, within combat
    4. Challenge (Game as obstacle course) - Troop designs that encourage the player to "solve" challenges, skill-based ARPG combat
    5. Fellowship (Game as social framework) - Not usually found in JRPG Combat, but could be delivered in games which develop a large community discussing the combat system
    6. Discovery (Game as uncharted territory) - Mechanical exploration of new skills, characters, and combos
    7. Expression (Game as self-discovery) - Flexible character builds (of roughly equivalent overall power), artistic choices (e.g. costumes, visible expression of equipment choices)
    8. Submission (Game as pastime) - Grinding, Collecting Loot (for completionism, moreso than for mandatory quests)

    Remember that those are Dynamics, which Mechanics should be developed to support:
    • You would design specific Mechanics within Troop Design (such as an order in which enemies must be defeated) to address the 'Challenge'-type dynamic of "Troop designs that encourage the player to solve challenges"
    • You would implement the mechanic of bullet-time slowdown of finishing hits (complete with special camera angles) to address the 'Sensation'-type dynamic of "Context-sensitive audiovisual feedback")
    • You would develop a Skill Equip mechanic to address the 'Expression'-type dynamic of "Flexible character builds".

    Additionally, remember that these are some ways in which RPG combat can be fun. No game should aim to deliver on all eight Aesthetics. Pick two or three that you really want your player to feel, and make every design decision based on delivering those. Cut out features that don't deliver them - save them for another game.
     
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