When every battle is like a boss battle...

Tsukihime

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Boss battles in RPG's tend to not be the kind where you just spam attack for 2 mins and then win. Usually you have to figure out some strategy in order to win.

Now what happens if this applies to absolutely every battle in the game? Of course you could turn off encounters if it really bores you and not having all those levels won't be a real issue anyways.

Would you be turned off? Having to actually think about how you're fighting even against slime rather than just rely on brute force and just spam your strongest skills. Of course at some point you'd be strong enough that brute force would work, but there'd be no point then.
 

Necromus

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For frequent encounters, that wouldn't really work imo, way too tedious.

If you just have a set ammount of battles, then that might work.

Games like Disgaea and tactic games alike are pretty much like that.
 

sabao

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Despain summed up my feelings very well.

If you're spiking difficulty up by a lot, consider the frequency and rewards. Too many battles that last well over ten minutes would distract players from actually progressing the story and the fatigue caused may turn them away from the game entirely.
 

Zeramae

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Yep; you'd need for each battle to be brutal as a boss battle, but as quick as a regular battle, or make a limited number of them that doesn't overwhelm the player.

It kind of defeats the purpose of leveling up if it's done in the second fashion, and thus nearly defeats many other purposes like money and items. I myself love difficult battles, but I hate long battles worse than I do easy ones...oh never again will I fight those hour long boss battles where I know for a fact I'll win D=
 

.notsafety

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I'm fine with the majority of random encounters having straight-up murderers, but I don't think a lot of people want to play a game where each random fight requires a mini-analysis, several minutes worth of your time, and possibly just dumb luck. if the battles aren't very common though, then it'd probably be tolerable or perhaps appealing if executed properly.
 

Helladen

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Make the players think and not just spam attack, but make the duration of the fight quick.

I'm all for Chrono Trigger where they lay out a specific number of fights on the map ,so exploring doesn't feel like such a tedious task.
 

Kaelan

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Depends on how you implement it. That's basically how Monster Hunter works (technically there are easy enemies running around too, but you rarely bother actually fighting them beyond the tutorial areas in the game - usually you just go from boss to boss), and I love that game.

You'd definitely have to get rid of random encounters though.
 
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Ravenith

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No random encounters, not for ANY reason. Beyond that... there's much you can do.

I prefer to have a miniboss of sorts every 4-5 easy battles. I think this is a nice equilibrium.
 

amerk

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I've seen some games (demos, though, nothing really complete) where every encounter had a level of difficulty with it, and in essence, each battle was like a mini-boss. The way they handled these fights were:

1. Event battles, nothing random.

2. No repeat battles, once completed, they never re-spawned.

3. Limited amounts of potions, etc.

4. At the end of each battle, the character's health and magic was restored.

Each battle was a bit difficult and required strategy, but there were fewer battles to deal with, the rewards were nice (higher EXP/Gold) as a result, and it gave the battles a reason, as the game was more story-driven. In the end, I enjoyed it a lot more than random, pointless monster grinding.
 

Emmych

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I've always liked the idea that the boss of an area is like the final exam of all the things you learned while fighting the regular schmucks that were mucking about. Say you encounter a group that's super annoying to kill when their healer is alive, so you murder it, and therefore learn that healers should die first. Then, when you go up against the boss with five arms and one arm is healing the main body, you go "OH HEY I SHOULD PROBABLY KILL THAT ONE FIRST".
 

Clareain_Christopher

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I like having a lot of bosses, but it's NEVER a good idea to make every mob a "boss" mob.

If every battle in the game is hard, the player will ragequit. They need a break after fighting something difficult.

Oh yeah! Random battles can go straight to hell.
 
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Clord

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I've always liked the idea that the boss of an area is like the final exam of all the things you learned while fighting the regular schmucks that were mucking about. Say you encounter a group that's super annoying to kill when their healer is alive, so you murder it, and therefore learn that healers should die first. Then, when you go up against the boss with five arms and one arm is healing the main body, you go "OH HEY I SHOULD PROBABLY KILL THAT ONE FIRST".
That kind of mocks the player. Not very ideal thing to do. Boss should be one where player studies the boss while fighting it and then either fails to learn it on time which means he needs to try the battle again or just gets it fast and deals with the boss like it is nothing.
 
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Tuomo L

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If there's no random battles, it would work. If there's not many battles in the game in general, it would work. For anything with random encounters and tons of foes, absolutely no.
 

Levi

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I do feel every battle "should be like a" boss battle... a boss battle being what you described in OP

Usually you have to figure out some strategy in order to win.
The difference, though, is that every boss is unique [thus requiring new strategy for each boss] while random/standard encounters are mostly the same enemies/troops.

So, after the first battle or two... you know how best to beat them, so they're no longer a challenge. Although the first encounter that you have with any given enemy/troop may be difficult, you soon learn their weaknesses and can exploit them for easy wins in the future. While boss encounters are "one off"s, requiring you to learn it's weakness as you fight.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Shortened/simplified version:

The first encounter with any new enemy should feel like a boss battle. But after a few fights you know how to defeat them.
 
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Andynator

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Because of i like the Idea of having complex battles in the game, i have discussed around a while with friends and other players. We talked very much. About things we like while gaming, and things, we don’t like.

At the End, we got a list with many different problems to solve. “Random encounters” is one problem that makes player “hate” difficult normal-battles. But it is not the one and only.

I know … my post is very long, but, because of we have discussed this idea long and intensively, it might be interesting for every designer here, who plans the same:

Problem 1: “Ok, look my friend. I know you are the big boss. But with my unbelievable 1337-skillz I’m going to kill you. I’m going to crush you! I’m going to … to … to the hotel because my mana is empty. Please wait for me, I’m back tomorrow.”

The classical role-playing system forced the player, to act with limited resources. Skills are limited because mana is limited. Mana is limited, because items are limited. And items are limited, because money is limited. That makes the Player thrifty. He will try, to win every battle with a minimal consumption of his resources.

The key, to make battles more than a series of Attack-Attack-Attack-... is simple: free the player at first from the necessity, to save resources. Give him the ability, to silence or blind his enemy, without the fear, to get engaged from the boss later on, without any mana left.

As long, as the player must fear, to run out of his primary resources, for example mana and items, he feels reluctant to the use of specials and skills against normal enemies. And he will try to save his potions because he don’t want (or don’t could) leave the dungeon in order to buy new items at the vendor. If your battle design forces him to use them nevertheless, he more likely is going to be frustrated than entertained.

The most simple (but the most boring, too) street which leads you to this goal, might be: make mana-potions worthless. If the player could buy mana-potions for one gold at every vendor, he probably will use his skills much more often. But in fact, if you do so, it is exact the same, as if you delete the primary resource from your game. Try to work with a primary resource, the regenerates in battle. Try to use cooldowns instead of mana. Give the player cheap potions, which only could use on the map, not in battle.

But, it doesn't matter, what you are trying to do. As long, as the player is forced to hold back his "power" in battles, in order to save it for later battles, he will probably not accept a system with difficult normal battles.

Problem 2: “Ok, guy’s! Let’s blind that evil berserk-squirrel and … and … I missed … ? … Once … again …? That’s the third time I missed! This spell is absolutely useless! I hate it! I hate this spell much more, than I hate my villain!”

The second point, you have to handle with, are chances. There are many chances in a game. Hit-chances, and evasion-chances and success-chances. Game-designer loves them, because, they think, if a spell missed, the player had to use it again. Unfortunately that’s a mistake, because player hates chances. There are only two things, a player hates much more, than chances: To get a negative result because of a poor chance – and a game designer who likes chances.

If a player uses a blinding spell against an enemy, and it missed, the player would probably never use this spell again.

If you build an encounter, which forces the player to use a tactical-spell – maybe silence against a healer – and the target will resist two or three times in a row, you probably would have a very angry and hatefull player. The Player doesn’t want to waste his actions in battle. If he uses “silence”, he sacrifices time, because he could use attack or a fire-spell instead. And so he wanted to use the action, which had the biggest chance for a positive result.

This is the way, the player thinks - and it is the way, the designer must think too. If the player uses “Fire2”, he causes damage to the target. This result might be not optimal, but it IS a result. If the player uses “blind” and missed, he causes – nothing. Player likes safety and control. They want to be the one guy, who is in charge. They want to decide where the battle goes. And they don't wanted to be outvoted by hit-chances.

In my game, for example, I cut of ALL battle-related chances which affect the player. Enemies could miss, but the player never. If an enemy is not immune to a state, the state would apply every time, it is used. That gives the player a feeling of safety instead of the feeling of playing Russian roulette.

And – much more important – it gives him the certainty, that he is the one, who controls the battle. If the Player wanted to silence his enemy, he WILL silence his enemy. He never has to pray for success.

If you want to make a game, in which normal battles force the player to use “tactical” skills, it is a big mistake, to bind these skills to a low hit- or success chance.

Problem 3: “No! Don’t make me ‘thinking about strategy’! I hate thinking! I don’t want to think! If i must think, i could not watch ‘Fringe’, while I’m playing!”

Much of your players simply don’t want complex encounters. Bosses are ok, but normal enemies are time sink. A normal encounter should NEVER force the player, to use a strategy. Sometimes the player want to do simply attack-attack-attack with the right hand, while, with the left hand, he tickles his cat between its ears.

At the crossroad of decisions, you ever have to take the “sweetmeat”-road, never the “punishment”-road. Make an encounter, which contains an attacker, one mage and one healer. Let the player think “Oh boy! If I silence the mage, blind the attacker und kill the healer first; the battle is going to be much less difficult, as if i spam the attack-command!” But NEVER let the attack-spam - in a normal battle - be the way to an unavoidable Game-Over-Screen.

If the player learns, that a strategy lets him win in 3 turns, while an attack-spam lets him win in 6 turns, at one point in the game, he will start to use the strategy, you offered to him. But if he loses the battle, every time he doesn’t do, what YOU want, then – at one point – he will quit the game and never return.

Problem 4: “Now I am at least one hour in this dungeon and still in the first room? Hey, can somebody show me the way to the riddles? To the cut scenes, maybe? I turned off into the wrong game and be captured in a Beat’em’up now!”

Don’t let the Player fight too much. The players like to solve riddles and traps, want to win against big villains. They want to go on in the story. They don’t want to fight one boss like-henchmen after another. If you make your fights difficult, make them rare… If the player would be attacked by a mini-Boss every two steps - one day, he will lying down on the floor, with thick, greenish foam at the mouth and eats all human beings, which came to near to him.

Maybe make difficult enemies optional. If you build a Marlboro-like encounter, in which the complete party falls into, confuse, poison and sleep after the first turn, and then falls into death after the second turn, don’t let it be a random encounter! It is always a good idea, to make strong enemies avoidable. Maybe there are ways, to make the player, attack the enemy on his own wish. For example valuable loot.

In games, with much riddles and puzzles, you can place one stupid would-like-to-be-the-big-boss on every map, and the player has to kill it, in order to proceed. If this Mini-Boss would be the one and only villain on every map, the player would probably like the great amount of peace; he is getting in exchange for one difficult battle.

Problem 5: “What? I … I’m dead? But … but … but … there were 5 Battles since the last safe point! This could not be!”

The Player would hate you … and if I say “hate you” I REALY mean “HATE YOU” – if he fights 5 minutes against an enemy, only to die in the next battle and have to kill the first enemy again. If you make long and difficult battles, you have to give the player the chance, to safe his game very often. If the player has to fight 3 minutes or longer against a single enemy, he NEVER should risk, fighting this battle again.

That means, the player should save his game after every battle. And you should keep the enemies from respawning. If the player solves a riddle, a puzzle, or a mini-game, there should never be an enemy-encounter, with a remarkable risk of death, between the player, and the next save point. Just as this, the player should never be able to capture himself in the dungeon.

If the player saves his game at a save point - or from the menu - and then is captured, because he did not possess enough potions, for fighting the Boss, or fighting back to the last vendor, he will quit the game.

Problem 6: “Ok my friend, listen. Before you got your coup de grace from me, I have only one question: If you are the big-evil-bad-boy-in-charge in this shed, why the hell did I have much more respect for the sweet-little-mouse in the basement, then I have for you?”

That is at first a problem for the story-telling. If the normal enemies are difficult … how difficult should be a boss? If the boss is weaker as a normal monster, the player would have problems to imagine, that the boss is “the Bad guy”.

But the idea “If a monster is strong, make the boss even stronger!” did not work, because one day the difficulty reaches a level, at which a “normal” player no longer has any fun, while playing.

If you make difficult normal battles, you have to search after possibilities, to make boss-battles different from normal-battles. Not only more difficult … completely different. For example “enrage Timer.” Give the player 10 or 20 turns, to win. After this time, the enemy will escape and the battle is lost. That is not the only way, but it is a way. Normal battles, and boss battles should never feel exactly the same.
 
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Sage

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It really depends on how your game and combat is structured. For instance, in our game Profit Motive, every single on of our battles (minus the first tutorial one) is like that. It requires you to think and use strategy. However, the frequency of battles is low and players can pick and choose which battles they want to fight, so a strategic battle system works well for that.

Tactics RPGs might also be another type of RPG where deep strategy in every encounter would work.

-Sage

p.s. Oh and one important extra note is that if you fail one of these battles you do not "die" and have to reset back, losing your progress, instead you lose some metagame rewards such as cash and points, which means you have less to spend on cool stuff. So the cost for failing one of these battles is fairly low.
 
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Mouser

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I think this sort of system would work well with stage based XP: ie: you don't get any XP for killing things, only for moving the story along.

This way, you know exactly what level the PC's are and what their skill should be for the battles, and the players won't go looking for random encounters to level up, because they know thay won't do them any good. If you put in enough content, dialogue, puzzles, and just enough travel to make it seem significant without turning boring, it can work very well.
 

Corlagon

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Except that with character development set in stone it would no longer feel like an RPG, so you'd better call it a tactics game or whatever in order not to alienate the audience.
 

Clareain_Christopher

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Just don't make every battle hard. That's a good way to make 40% of your playerbase ragequit. Always

balance a hard fight with one to 3 easy fights.
 
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Mouser

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Except that with character development set in stone it would no longer feel like an RPG, so you'd better call it a tactics game or whatever in order not to alienate the audience.
If you were replying to me, Stage based XP doesn't mean character development is necessarily set in stone (though I see how it would be by default).

This is where things like selectable skills, or other ways to "spend" that XP come in.

Or you can just make it a tactics/adventure game, those can be fun too :)
 

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