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Dakota Day

Combat in an RPG

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I need some advice on how to go about the design and interaction of a combat system for the main rpg I am working on. I was originally thinking about the classic random encounters that lead to a battle screen with the standard attack this enemy with this method or choose an enemy and a move to use.

My game is 2D top down view so that method seemed appropriate for a classic feel. But now I'm thinking something closer to Ni No Kuni would be more appealing.

Basically I am having a conflict of ideas with myself because of this. A change to a battle system in a game that can involve heavy amounts of combat can make or break a game.

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I don't like the switch screen method myself, as it seems very artificial, and with all of the menus and invisible enemies it really breaks immersion for your overworld map. It also makes things more complicated in some ways, art-wise.

I'm hard pressed to think of any advantages to it, other than if you're targeting a demographic that likes that kind of slower time/turn based menu selection strategy.

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I was thinking of doing it in a way that the faster you chose your attacks the more you could attack before the enemy. Unless its a scripted encounter or you arnt paying attention and the enemy gets the drop on you. This method would obviously need more tweaks than just that for it not to be too easy to win a fight.

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I'm not sure that I'm really in the target audience of such a game, but for myself, I really don't like "invisible" random encounters: that is, encounters that just pop up without warning, as opposed to those that are represented on the overworld and can be avoided if the player so chooses.

 

Otherwise, perhaps it might be a good idea to prototype one or both or your ideas; that way you can try them out for yourself, and post them here for feedback.

 

I imagine that such a prototype would be pretty simple: create a simple overworld, but leave out levels and towns. Implement both approaches to battle, and either create two prototypes (one for each), or allow the player to toggle between them from the overworld.

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"Invisible" Random encounters on the overland map never really bothered me. To me, moving around on the big overland map was always an abstraction like an Indiana Jones dotted line being drawn on a map. Or like a game master saying, the trip to the Brimdak salt mines is uneventful.... Since walking from Nimm to Brimdak takes more than 20 seconds of game time it seemed just fine to me.

 

I did some searching on Ni No Kuni but just found some cartoons and what looks like a pretty 2.5d battlescreen, but that's just fancy graphics on a 2d battlescreen. Can you find a better picture for us to understand what you're going for? 

 

A lot of older games used to do it just because it was a little more resource intensive to have some wandering monsters on the map, controlling them with AI, moving them, drawing them, etc. But after thinking about it, Fallout 1 and 2 did this style very well and they're my favorite RPG's of all time. :) The key elements were an overland map, quick-select points for known locations, and a time/date indicator. 

 

fallo2_6.png

 

 

When you selected a destination, a little green line indicated your travel path, and the time/date would tick up rapidly, and I felt this added to the immersion. If you had a random encounter, it would take you over to the battle screen. 

 

I recommend starting out with the invisible random encounters just for simplicity. You should be able to get that working much quicker than "physical" encounters on the overland map.

  • Every square entered, give an N% chance for a random encounter.
  • Adjust N up or down to tastes.

 

If you still need "Physical" encounters on the map after you get your combat system, you can always come back and add it in later.

 

- Eck

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For myself, I find "invisible" encounters really frustrating: they interrupt what I'm trying to do, with no opportunity to attempt avoidance. If I'm out looking for fights then they're welcome: combat is what I'm looking for. If I want to get from town to town, I don't want to be interrupted every five steps because the dice say so--if I don't feel like fighting I want to have the option to at least attempt to avoid the enemy. (But this should perhaps be noted: between this thread and the "Golden Era of the RPG" thread it might be clear that I really, really don't like games that leave me at the mercy of dice--it's a pet peeve of mine.)

 

I do agree that "invisible" encounters would likely be rather easier to implement, however, and it's a matter of personal taste, so I won't argue against them as a starting point at the least.

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Sorry for lack of a picture I'm only using a simple smartphone at the moment. It is true that Ni No Kuni uses a 2.5D system for the battle screen. But what they do for encounters is having the enemies pre-rendered on screen so you can run into them at will. or they run from you if you are a lot higher level than they are. They also have them give chase as you pass by so there isn't always a way around. Monsters that in the games lore are aggressive will almost always attack regardless of level. I hope this explains what ai was aiming for in reference to that game.

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My preference is always something like the Chrono Trigger system (enemies seen and avoidable, and combat takes place on the same screen).  If the world is interesting, I'd rather fight there than be taken away to a "room".  (I can sort of understand it for certain sorts of tactical battle screens, where battle might need something (a weird grid, say) that doesn't exist in the world itself.  But nonetheless I'd rather have the battle lineup embedded cleverly within the world itself.)

 

I agree with Eck that random battles on the world map aren't so bad, because you can understand that it's an abstraction.  What is more annoying is when you have something building-scale, and there are somehow infinite invisible enemies running around.  I can see individual rivets in the treasure chest, how are there hundreds of cave bears in this room that I can't see?!?

 

And on the mechanical side of things, Thaumaturge is also right that the annoying part is that you're forced to do something through no choice of your own, determined solely by chance.  (I wouldn't say "Taking away player choice is always bad", but I would say "When you take away player choice, have a damn good reason for it.")  Anything you can do to give the player a choice about fighting helps to mitigate this.  (For example, having the "encounter" dice roll start an event rather than start a battle -- "You hear howls over a ridge to the east.  Do you..."; "Bandits demand 300 gold.  Do you..." -- which may or may not end in a battle depending on your choices.  This probably isn't viable for a game with 5,000 encounters, 'cuz they'd repeat so much they'd probably get annoying, but it's just meant as an illustration of the principle.)

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I think if the combat would be turned-based, it better be automatic. That way, you can pre-calculate the battle really fast at the initiation of encounter. Nearly all popular browser rpgs these days use that mechanism. Maybe it is not the best option, but there is a good amount of people that is already used to that. This way, you become more of a "manager" of your character though. You just try to improve the gear and let the automatic battle decide. Plus, in a turn based fight, the outcome is almost decided if both parties are managed by  "average" players. In automatic fight, the AI plays the most "optimistic" scenario for both parties let's say. Thus, the battle itself would be more fair. But again, idk. Though, this automatic battle thing decreases a lot of burden from the server.  

Edited by Yi?it Oktar

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I am looking for a way to combine the element of running into an enemy and having them be more than one in that encounter with the lack of turn based combat so you can run up and start the battle without immersion breaking from a screen transition.

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