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Need help - can't find the fun factor

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I wrote about an idea of a Fantasy Guild Simulation game here about 2 months ago and I have been working on it on and off and kind of hit a brickwall. I can't find the fun factor in it at the moment.

 

So here is the idea so far.

 

---

The main premise for the game is that you control a guild of fantasy-based heroes, mages, knight etc. They work for you to help finish quest that towns have. The game is fully text-based at the moment, similar to that of "Long live the queen". 

The game operates in on a day-basis. Each day begins by you looking at what have happen the previous day, collect the rewards from town and returning the heroes back to town. After that you decide what you want each hero to do for that day. Those that are still on mission will not be assignable. After that you "end the day/turn" and the world will simulate your decision and cycle continues.

 

Towns provides various type of quests. Some requires you to slain various type of monsters in various places, or gather certain amount of items from various places.

You can send heroes to locations to "explore" them, allowing you to kill monsters or gather stuffs from there. Combat will occur when you encounter enemy and will be resolved automatically.

 

Combat resolution is done using a ActionPoint/Speed system, like most FF title, except that instead of you choosing the moves that the unit will perform, they will choose randomly, or based on their traits. For example, if a character has a "Thrifty", he will more than likely choose a skill that cost him less energy, or if a character is "Flashy", he will more likely to choose skill that is more specular.
 

The other thing you can do is to train the heroes. This do not gain you gold/resources but improve the character faster. However, they generally don't like to train since they also don't get gold if they don't go out on mission.

 

Heroes with specific skill can also create items; Weapon making or potion brewing for example. The quality of the item that is made is also depend on the skill of the unit. 

 

---

 

So far I have implemented basic exploration of places, a simple combat resolution, and some basic recruitment stuffs. I implemented them mostly using curses instead of a graphics library. 

 

There are a few problems that I realized after playing a bit of the game. Firstly, it seems fun to watch your character grow at first, but there are no way to see how much they have grow.

 

Take Pokemon/FF game for example. They have a simple combat system and as your pokemon/char grow, they learn new skills and you directly see the impact of this growth. In this simulation game, since the combat is automatic, the feedback is not that obvious. If you can't see the impact of the growth of the characters, then the growth fun factor isn't that fun anymore.

 

On top of that, it seems like this game has only 1 core feedback loop and it is not as fun as I thought it would be. All you seems to do is sending units on missions, train/upgrade units, then send them on more missions. 

 

So the question for fellow game developers are 

1) Do you think the game I describe have any audiences ?

2) How would you improve to solve the problem I mentioned ?

 

I really like this idea but I can't see myself enjoying it, at least not with the problems I mentioned. I might be too close to it to see the "fun", so I hope you guys can give me some feedback on what I have now. 

 

(I did thought about using a non-automatic combat resolution, like FF-tactics or as simple as traditional turn based combat. However, I realized the core part of the game is character building and not combat/tactics. Having the player directly control the combat will shift the time that the player spend on management stuffs from 100% to about 15 ~ 20%, meaning the combat will take up most of the player's time. Each day will be longer, since after you decide what you want to do and where you want to explore, you will have to spend even more time resolving them.)

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Nice idea, I also started working on a similar game some times ago (altough I dropped the idea because no times)

1) Yes, I think it have a possible audience. The idea itself is not boring.

2) 

The first problem I see, is the lack of final objective. (Or you didn't mentionned it) Is there a story to follow? Does accomplishing quest bring you anything other than gold? For exemple, as you accomplish more quest the reputation of your guild goes up, the merchant in town want to sponsor you, the king want one of your hero to marry his daughter, etc.... The player should be able to influence the world with its actions.

Then, to render the game more attractive I would propose two way.

1. Collecting. Many people like collecting stuff. So give them things to unlock and collect. It could be a huge class-tree. For exemple your hero start as a soldier, then when reaching the right level and conditions he can become either a Swordman or a Knight, then a Paladin or a Dark Knight, then a FluffyKnight or a UnicornSoldier, etc...

I had this kind of feeling when playing Final Fantasy Tactic, I tried to unlock all the avaiblable job for all of my characters. Having some kind of evolution system could be interesing, and not only a level based system. For exemple, to become a UnicornKnight you have to be level 51 minimum, be a good guy/girl, have a profeciency in spear and sword wierlding and have unlock the skill RainbowMaking.

Infortunately, It means a lot of job creating all of these different class and not only new skins.

2. Make your player care for his/her heroes. Each one of the heroes should be unique and have their own characteristics and feelings. (This one don't like pudding, this is silly but it make him more personal) Make the heroes have an history and evolve. If a hero fail a quest involving spider he will become arachnophobe and is most likely to fail quest involving spiders. Give personalities to your heroes, even if it don't affect the gameplay.

Anyway, good luck :)

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Where is the screenshoot? It's sinful to tell us you watched them and don't provide a screen so we can see it too :D

 

 

The overall concept is nice, but don't fall into the same trap basicly all games of this subgenre falls. Which is understanding what the game is about.

It's a manager game. It's not about heroes, it's not about their growth, it's about the guild. You are the guild master, not a hero. It's nice to train your heroes and see them grow and everything but in the end they are an EXPENDABLE COMMODITY. They are here to save the world, rescue the princess so the reputation of the guild grows and if they have to die in the process, well, that's the sacriface you are willing to make :D

 

Detailed advices:

- simplify the combat, it's not needed, really (it's the heroes' problem, not guildmaster's)

- focus more on equipment and services (healing, blacksmith), you are to prepare the heroes for the adventure, that's your main task

- redesign the gold system (it's outrageous that heroes find money in dungeons and keep it!!! They should give it (or at least a huge part of it) to the guildmaster), redesign how you hire them (flat daily payment  - they will not complain about training anymore - plus royalties (percentage) of look they found in dungeons), you are the employer

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2. Make your player care for his/her heroes. Each one of the heroes should be unique and have their own characteristics and feelings. (This one don't like pudding, this is silly but it make him more personal) Make the heroes have an history and evolve. If a hero fail a quest involving spider he will become arachnophobe and is most likely to fail quest involving spiders. Give personalities to your heroes, even if it don't affect the gameplay.

 

I like this.

 

And for some reason it made me think of the game Castles. Inbetween building your castles, there would be some knight or abbot or whoever, who would present a problem to you (an old count gone mad, a quest for the queen of Sheba's gold, a rival plotting against you) ... these problems (or stories) would progress for a while, more or less along the lines of the choices you made.

 

So you could do something like that for each hero. Each would have one or more issues and they would rely on your advice or actions to sort them out. It doesn't have to have much of an impact on the actual game, though that could be the case too. The problem is making them diverse and interesting enough, so you don't get the same issue 10 times or something like that.

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The first problem I see, is the lack of final objective. (Or you didn't mentionned it) Is there a story to follow? Does accomplishing quest bring you anything other than gold? For exemple, as you accomplish more quest the reputation of your guild goes up, the merchant in town want to sponsor you, the king want one of your hero to marry his daughter, etc.... The player should be able to influence the world with its actions

I did thought of one backstory for the game. - You are a retired adventurers, like many others. You are diagnosed with a illness that will cause you to die in say 200 days. You decided to take your fortune that you have gain over the years to start a guild and train new adventurers and leave your name in history." One possible goal that player can have is to prolong their life. To prolong your life, you can seek out rare herbs/medicine, legendary doctors, or even train your own doctors to slightly extend your life.

 

I also want player's action to affect the towns' state, like say if the town ask you to destroy some rat infestation and you didn't, then the town may get overrun by rats and have lack of food, which means they may not sell you food etc. 

1. Collecting. Many people like collecting stuff. So give them things to unlock and collect. It could be a huge class-tree. For exemple your hero start as a soldier, then when reaching the right level and conditions he can become either a Swordman or a Knight, then a Paladin or a Dark Knight, then a FluffyKnight or a UnicornSoldier, etc...

I had this kind of feeling when playing Final Fantasy Tactic, I tried to unlock all the avaiblable job for all of my characters. Having some kind of evolution system could be interesing, and not only a level based system. For exemple, to become a UnicornKnight you have to be level 51 minimum, be a good guy/girl, have a profeciency in spear and sword wierlding and have unlock the skill RainbowMaking.

I really like the collecting aspect as well. The question for me is whether the player can see the significant of their collection. Like in FFTA or pokemon, you can see the impact of training your squad or finding new squad members directly through combat. However, it seems like this in game you can't really see the impact.

2. Make your player care for his/her heroes. Each one of the heroes should be unique and have their own characteristics and feelings. (This one don't like pudding, this is silly but it make him more personal) Make the heroes have an history and evolve. If a hero fail a quest involving spider he will become arachnophobe and is most likely to fail quest involving spiders. Give personalities to your heroes, even if it don't affect the gameplay.

Yeap, I like this =D

Where is the screenshoot? It's sinful to tell us you watched them and don't provide a screen so we can see it too

The game is simulated using terminal/ncurses at the moment, mostly text and only a few main interaction are fully implemented.

However, I attached the "combat log". It kind of look something like that at the moment. You will have to imagine how it will look like if graphics were used ;P

It seems a game that I could play on mobile devices, with icons and buttons

Hmm i thought about it but not sure how big of the audience are in the mobile market. 

The overall concept is nice, but don't fall into the same trap basicly all games of this subgenre falls. Which is understanding what the game is about.

It's a manager game. It's not about heroes, it's not about their growth, it's about the guild. You are the guild master, not a hero. It's nice to train your heroes and see them grow and everything but in the end they are an EXPENDABLE COMMODITY. They are here to save the world, rescue the princess so the reputation of the guild grows and if they have to die in the process, well, that's the sacriface you are willing to make
 
Detailed advices:
- simplify the combat, it's not needed, really (it's the heroes' problem, not guildmaster's)
- focus more on equipment and services (healing, blacksmith), you are to prepare the heroes for the adventure, that's your main task
- redesign the gold system (it's outrageous that heroes find money in dungeons and keep it!!! They should give it (or at least a huge part of it) to the guildmaster), redesign how you hire them (flat daily payment  - they will not complain about training anymore - plus royalties (percentage) of look they found in dungeons), you are the employer

Yeap I understand that, which is why I moved away from my original combat. I wanted to make it that you control the combat like most FF games but I realized that I want to assign tasks rather than actually managing the fights myself. But after making the combat automatic, it seems like I can't see the significant of the growth of the characters. Perhaps part of the reason is I haven't implement all the subsystems and I can't see the full effect of my decision yet.

 

I really like all the response so far. biggrin.png. Thanks a lot for all comments/interest. I will continue the project and post more if there are more information/screenshots =D

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Personally, i don't find combat logs very interesting most of the time. Key word there being "most" as so much of what happens in combat is just hit after hit. The more frequent a specific thing happens in a battle, the less interesting it is. Is it at all possible to let the combat play itself out and then take the log that was generated and summarize the battle or other wise conversationalize it?

 

"Yeah, earlier today I ran into a snake. It got me a couple of times but it was no match for me. I quickly knocked it out and made it pay for annoying me. Damn thing poisoned me though and I didn't have a potion handy."

 

If you can provide a summary or analysis on what a character does and maybe something of their opinion about that given their traits, perhaps it can help the player develop more of an attachment to the characters. Perhaps in coming up with such information you can find that a character has reason for a falling out with you and perhaps becomes an enemy or rival.

 

Though you have some backstory, you don't have anything for the player to really measure his progress against. There doesn't seem to be any antagonistic forces that the player has to keep up with or be challenged by. You need competing factions, or kingdoms, or gods or soemthing like that. Something that forces the player to grow.

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Focus very carefully on what the player can control.

 

So crafting,alchemy and equipping the heroes should be left for the player, the heroes might have a default equipment and you can loan them equipment for missions or even sell them(but they chose what to buy)

 

For training you can look at princes maker type games, add a layer of traits and relationship between heroes.

 

When you send for missions you can do some planning like party composition and positioning as well as what to do in the dungeon or mission.

For example in a dungeon with 2 paths you can tell them which path to go how much to explore and when to retreat.

 

The main game loop could be to collect gear and grow heroes and unlock classes(disgaea). Heroes that go to dungeon should be nothing more the glorified resource collectors for your crafting.

 

The end game major conflict(that appears later?) could be that the world is slowly going to shit because of the awakened demon lord(that a nitwit hero awakened while dungeoning) that the heroes have to defeat, and you have to manage things not going to complete shit immediately.

 

Another interesting thing that you could add is some politics and morality system. Where you will have to do some really evil missions or be in some really bad situations with no really good choices.

 

For example the lord that owns your ass has a peasant revolt in his back yard and you have to solve it or he will kick your ass.

If you employ a hardboiled ruthless hero who is in it for the money he will start cutting the peasants and never stop until they are dead, not ideal.

A goody two shoes paladin might solve it by being the hero the peasants need and leading a revolution against the lord and kicks your ass in the process, pretty bad.

It would take heroes with considerable wit and charlatanry as well as other factors to diffuse the situation peacefully.

 

This is the kind of events i would absolutely love in a game like this, choice and consequence in any game is worth to have.

 

There is a manhwa(korean comic) on the theme of this type of adventuring called Fantasy World Survival that you might be inspired by.

 

Edit: I do not like your 200 days to live mechanic,it does nothing for the game, just have an hero that took an arrow to the knee and retired, that way you can bring end game conflict later in the game since you need something like that.

I don't want to play a waster away simulator, I want to play oh shit is going down what do I do simulator, much more interesting.

Edited by adrix89

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Focus very carefully on what the player can control.

 

So crafting,alchemy and equipping the heroes should be left for the player, the heroes might have a default equipment and you can loan them equipment for missions or even sell them(but they chose what to buy)

 

For training you can look at princes maker type games, add a layer of traits and relationship between heroes.

 

When you send for missions you can do some planning like party composition and positioning as well as what to do in the dungeon or mission.

For example in a dungeon with 2 paths you can tell them which path to go how much to explore and when to retreat.

 

The main game loop could be to collect gear and grow heroes and unlock classes(disgaea). Heroes that go to dungeon should be nothing more the glorified resource collectors for your crafting.

 

The end game major conflict(that appears later?) could be that the world is slowly going to shit because of the awakened demon lord(that a nitwit hero awakened while dungeoning) that the heroes have to defeat, and you have to manage things not going to complete shit immediately.

 

Another interesting thing that you could add is some politics and morality system. Where you will have to do some really evil missions or be in some really bad situations with no really good choices.

 

For example the lord that owns your ass has a peasant revolt in his back yard and you have to solve it or he will kick your ass.

If you employ a hardboiled ruthless hero who is in it for the money he will start cutting the peasants and never stop until they are dead, not ideal.

A goody two shoes paladin might solve it by being the hero the peasants need and leading a revolution against the lord and kicks your ass in the process, pretty bad.

It would take heroes with considerable wit and charlatanry as well as other factors to diffuse the situation peacefully.

 

This is the kind of events i would absolutely love in a game like this, choice and consequence in any game is worth to have.

 

There is a manhwa(korean comic) on the theme of this type of adventuring called Fantasy World Survival that you might be inspired by.

 

Edit: I do not like your 200 days to live mechanic,it does nothing for the game, just have an hero that took an arrow to the knee and retired, that way you can bring end game conflict later in the game since you need something like that.

I don't want to play a waster away simulator, I want to play oh shit is going down what do I do simulator, much more interesting.

I want to add politics, friendship, morality and many more stuffs but would those be interesting even if the core loop isn't fun? I will consider them later.

 

I am still choosing between writing a "oh shit oh shit oh shit simulation game" that you can never beat or have no ending, and a slow pace game that just let you build slowly and enjoy the "story". The 200 days to live mechanics is like that, enforcing a soft time limit that the player can extend. I will think of a more natural "oh shit" mechanics instead of the time limit :P. I will look at the manga that you show. Seems interesting. Part of the inspiration for this game came from "Fairy Tail". You should check that out if you are into manga :P.

 

Personally, i don't find combat logs very interesting most of the time. Key word there being "most" as so much of what happens in combat is just hit after hit. The more frequent a specific thing happens in a battle, the less interesting it is. Is it at all possible to let the combat play itself out and then take the log that was generated and summarize the battle or other wise conversationalize it?

 

"Yeah, earlier today I ran into a snake. It got me a couple of times but it was no match for me. I quickly knocked it out and made it pay for annoying me. Damn thing poisoned me though and I didn't have a potion handy."

 

If you can provide a summary or analysis on what a character does and maybe something of their opinion about that given their traits, perhaps it can help the player develop more of an attachment to the characters. Perhaps in coming up with such information you can find that a character has reason for a falling out with you and perhaps becomes an enemy or rival.

 

Though you have some backstory, you don't have anything for the player to really measure his progress against. There doesn't seem to be any antagonistic forces that the player has to keep up with or be challenged by. You need competing factions, or kingdoms, or gods or soemthing like that. Something that forces the player to grow.

Yeah I realized that combat logs aren't interesting too. The log is like this because originally I planned to a FF style combat along with some other stuffs that logging in this fashion seems natural. On top of that, many DF-like game does it this way. I understand that it is not fun to read and which is why this is one of the main thing that bothers me. The combat is not interesting enough. I really like how you write the combat. It seems like an interesting way to write the logs but that very close to "story generation". Need to read up on how to do it. :P

 

I am thinking if I can fit a "combat-puzzle" into the game so the player have some sort of decision before going into the combat. Any game that I can look to get inspiration ? 

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I like the guildmaster having an ulterior motive, maybe even being corrupt.  Gives the game some inner conflict, and helps to differentiate it.  Maybe no one knows he's dying, and he doesn't want anyone to know that he's forging "fetch rare herb" quests to get ingredients for his life-prolonging alchemy.  (Maybe all those rescued princesses are being turned into medicine, too.)  Those quests are the stick; every month, you have to have looted a particular combination of items or game over.  It doesn't have to be a sharp stick, it could be a minor thing that ramps up slowly as you play, just so long as it gives you a motivation to level your fighters.

 

 

But you don't want to send the same adventurer on too many herb quests or they'll figure out something's up.  And adventurers that figure out that something's up have to have "accidents".  So you don't want every quest to succeed: you want to have most quests succeed (to level up your adventurers for the required quests), but you want some of them to fail, so as to get rid of suspicious adventurers.  (But not fail so obviously that it creates MORE suspicious adventurers!)

 

In terms of a quest mechanic, I like the puzzle idea.  Maybe you have a quest-launching area with set of cards/tiles/whatever representing challenges (monsters, obstacles, locks, etc.) and can drag adventurers onto it with their own matching icons (so this adventurer has nine hearts; this one has three hearts but can climb a cliff and has three lockpicks).  A few cards are upside-down so you don't have complete knowledge (but DO have plausible deniability).  If you match every challenge, they'll come back with the loot (gold, herbs, princesses, etc.).  If an obstacle isn't matched, then they'll come home empty handed.  But for each *enemy* that isn't matched, it's roulette time and a random adventurer on the team dies.  (Hopefully that suspicious meddler!  But you can never predict...)

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I want to add politics, friendship, morality and many more stuffs but would those be interesting even if the core loop isn't fun? I will consider them later.

I'm not sure why you consider them separate, the whole integrated design is what makes games fun not just one particular mechanic.

From the look of things the game has 3 phases.

The planing phase  that the player is in full control, and here you have to cram as much things as possible for the player to do and thus affect the game with.

The testing phase that resolves the mission/dungeon. It is essential to cram as much "oh shit" factors that the players have to predict and account for as well as risk.

The testing phase IS the challenge, the mission/quests should be an absolute disaster waiting to happen.

Maybe make it so you shouldn't complete them in one go so that it takes multiple turns.

For example first you would explore and scout the monsters rather then engage them and gather as much information.

Next maybe you test the waters and engage in some limited encounters and from that feedback you plan better.

And only after you are confident you send to to completely clear it.

And after that maybe you optimize to be a resource extracting expedition.

Dungeons should be deep, dangerous and unpredictable.

 

This is for dungeons for missions you have different factors to account but still spread out the completion over multiple turns as long as you are not over the time limit.

 

The third phase is the outcome, heroes killed, what has been looted and how the mission has played out and thus problems you have to manage out of.

IF you send in the wrong heroes on the mission you may have botched the mission irreversibly so you have to mange the fallout.

 

As long as you have a good first phase where you mange stuff and how good the challenge is in the second phase is how fun, engaging and interesting the game is.

As long as you haven't completed this phases it is pointless to talk about "core loop", got it?

 

 

I am still choosing between writing a "oh shit oh shit oh shit simulation game" that you can never beat or have no ending, and a slow pace game that just let you build slowly and enjoy the "story".

They are not mutually exclusive,you can have both as long as they are interesting.

Edited by adrix89

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I remember playing this game "Rebuild" where the player send people out on missions etc. They did it quite nice in the sense that the decision of the player matters and there is a overall goal for the player. However, if there is a danger that is threatening the "world" then gold and rewards for the guild don't really make sense, but wait, every single save the world game have "gold" in it =/

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I remember playing this game "Rebuild" where the player send people out on missions etc. They did it quite nice in the sense that the decision of the player matters and there is a overall goal for the player. However, if there is a danger that is threatening the "world" then gold and rewards for the guild don't really make sense, but wait, every single save the world game have "gold" in it =/

Gold doesn't need to be motivation, saving your ass can be just as good.

In fact profitability should be pretty independent, from doing missions and quests. It is up to you in how much ruthless you are to be profitable, most people want to be saved for free and aren't exactly swimming in gold.

 

Like all profitable things, guilding is a racket. And since you are one of the surviving ones you are pretty ruthless indeed, which ties in to the moral thing.

A guild has taxes and expenses and you have to pretty much be a bitch to a lordling to keep afloat which ties in to the politics and backstabbing between factions.

You pretty much are mercenaries with some polish to keep you shiny.

Some charity missions are nothing but a PR campaign so that you look somewhat legitimate and keep you from everyone strangling you in distrust.

 

At least that would be the realistic grim view.

Edited by adrix89

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There is a manhwa(korean comic) on the theme of this type of adventuring called Fantasy World Survival that you might be inspired by.

 

Thanks a lot for this recommendation. This manga is really good for what I want to do :P. I really like how they make "magic" in the world feels so ... scientific ? 

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I have a simple idea that might add some spice to the game:  Yours isn't the only guild in town.  What if there were people competing for these "jobs" or treasures, a group that you can't outwardly attack.  Maybe the king needs a princess saved or a magic sword retrieved, but the other crew is telling him they can do it cheaper and faster!

 

It might add spice to the game, it might completely break it.  Maybe even both!  Hope this helped!

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