He listed a few concerns and how he and his team intended on solving these issues in their game (Allacrost).
The discussion can be found here.
I've always been a big fan of the snes-era RPGs and thought about creating a series of discussions based around the flaws of the genre and how they could be assessed. I've noted some of the observations made by Roots and added my own, ending up with a non-exhaustive list of topics that could be covered by such discussions.
The format I'd like to setup for these discussions is to come up with one new theme on a weekly basis. Please do not hesitate to PM me any topic that may you'd like to discuss.
The discussion itself should be based around the topic that has been selected for that week (obviously).
Feel free to discuss
- the problem (helping everyone establish the root cause of why you believe this is a flaw and what are the consequences inherent to that),
- the solutions (if you know of games that have used a workaround to that or would like to promote your own idea)
- the topic itself (i.e. I may have written the topic in such a way that suggests a certain position when, in reality, this may require to be reformulated or may not necessarily be a problem).
Without further ago, this week's topic:
“Lack of strategic depth // Monkey-bashing the Fight command Syndrome”
In most retro RPGs, bashing the “Fight” command is the best return on investment for your time. You generally bash that key in areas where monsters are weaker, so that your party grows in level and then migrate to a new area/level and blast through content with no regard to actual strategy. You just fight.
The consequence here is that it undermines the strategical dimension of the game.
GRINDING THE FIGHT COMMAND
Here, the complain is the fight command itself which is used as a default action.
*Special-Abilities (Counterattacks): Chrono Trigger have a partial fix to this issue. They tackle the problem with this reasoning: “The problem is BASHING mindlessly the fight command, not using it.” As such, they created monsters that would generally be primary targets, and made them less likely to be hit first. The Winged Apes, for example, are prime choice for fight commands as they are the Alphas in their encounters. But so long as rocks are present, they get massive counterattacks on any physical damage their receive. This forces players to assess the problem in one of two different ways (options).
A – Defeat the rocks first, even if they are puny and very weak, so that the Winged Apes lose their devastating ability
B – Defeat the Winged Ape through the use of more powerful spells at the expanse of resources.
This brings somewhat more depth although this is negative reinforcement (getting hit repeatedly by the monster to tell you “Your strategy is bad”)
Note that this applies too when certain monster roles are defined (a healer, for example, which becomes the primary target despite not being a very large threat)
*Supressing the default Fight command: A few games, such as Diablo 3 (Signature spells) and Allacrost (please correct me if I'm wrong) chose to simply suppress the Fight command and replace it with various options. Their position is that the source of the problem is the creation of such a vague concept as the default attack which is both easier to access and acceptably effective.
While it does force players out of the Fight command, it doesn't necessarily force them out of a dominant strategy loop: in this case, the strategy with the lowest resistance, aka, the one where you simply bash the action button until an action is returned.
My real concern with that however is intimately tied with a different problem of the genre: keeping it simple. Most of the RPGs need some design space to bring in their own original take on the combat system, generally revamping the skill system. While replacing the Fight command with 3-4 signature spells that are free and have different effects is nice, it is also a lot more complex to grasp for the player, and reduces the amount of crazy things one can do with their skills afterwards if they wish to keep it simple to understand.
I strongly feel like this is an “ok” fix that is perhaps too taxing on the rest of the game's depth strategy-wise. Since the initial purpose is to increase strategy as a whole, this feels counter-effective.
FIGHT COMMAND WORKS ALL THE TIME
The concern here is that while some spells are more powerful at the expanse of Mps, it is still a viable and simpler strategy to just FIGHT the monsters off.
*Resistances: A lot of games have come up with groups of enemies that are resistant to physical damage, forcing the player to use their more powerful magical spells which cost resources. It generally gets the job done but doesn't really increase strategical decisions. This is a hard counter to force players out of their habits but does little else. This is more pattern recognition than actual strategy (oh yeah, this guy is fire based so I need to ice him). There isn't really choice involved in this solution.
ALWAYS BETTER TO GANG RUSH ONE THAN TO SPREAD FIRE
This one is a bit more vague. Intrisically, the idea in any given fight is to reduce the amount of threat you are facing at any given moment. Since all monsters in nearly all games represent 100% of their threat until reduced to 0 HP, there is no gain in striking 3 monsters simultaneously, if you could strike 3 times the same monster instead.
*Bloodied: A vague concept scarcely used in D&D 4th edition and to a lesser extent Mystic Quest (Final Fantasy) is the idea that a monster changes state as it decays. The idea here is that, somehow, a weakened monster should not be as much of a threat to the party as it would at full health. For example, past a certain threshold, a powerful minions would lose sufficient speed and damage output that it would fall from primary to secondary target. This could encourage strategies where the player chooses to strike 3 monsters at once rather than finish off one. The outcome would be diminished threat even if the monster count has not been reduced.
I believe part of the reason why we haven't seen this into action is because of the 'attack all' spells. Yet, I feel this is underused and could be expanded upon as a strategic element.
I'd like to hear what you guys have to say about this topic in general, the sub-issues I've listed, the cases I have overlooked, and solutions that you have found or believe might work.
Bear in mind that the goal here is not to make the battles longer, just more strategical and less repetitive. We absolutely want to avoid fighting 30 minutes at the time for every 5 steps of the way. It works for some (Bahamut Lagoon) but these are not part of the genre.
Edited by Orymus3, 25 June 2012 - 04:48 PM.