RPG Combat

rpg
video-game
rpg-maker

#1

In my search for games that satisfy my fetishes, I’ve played a lot of RPGs, especially ones made in RPG Maker. Given the engine’s tools and the conventions of the RPG genre, most of those games naturally came with a traditional, turn-based, menu-driven combat system. For the sake of clarification, I don’t have anything against this sort of gameplay. I’ve had plenty of fun with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Pit People.

Unfortunately, I’ve played a lot of RPG Maker games in which I simply didn’t enjoy the combat. The problems I’ve had include, but are not limited to:

  • Spending too much time in combat encounters
  • Unreasonable difficulty
  • Getting shafted by RNG

These issues can appear in any combination and vary immensely in severity. I want to use this thread to discuss the ways in which RPG combat can damage an experience, ways to improve it, and whether certain games might be better off without it.

Let’s start with my first listed complaint. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who, while playing a game, started to think, “Do I really have to keep doing what I’m doing right now? I don’t care why I need to do it. I just want to move on.” This can manifest in different ways, but they all turn what should be a fun series of strategic decisions and gambles into a dull, aggravating waste of time.

The classic example is the grind. I know that I shouldn’t have to explain this, but it keeps happening in the games I play. The first time I run into a new enemy, it’s a cool experience. What are its attacks? How do I fight it? What are the rewards for beating it? By the time I’ve fought twenty of them, however, all of these questions are answered, and fighting them is just a matter of repeating the steps to victory that I’ve already figured out. This also includes boss enemies with long, drawn-out fights. If I know enough about how to stay alive while keeping up my own damage output, then the boss is no longer a threat.

Imagine a puzzle game in which, after solving a given puzzle, the game then tasked you with solving the same puzzle again ten more times. You’ve already proven that you know what to do. Repeating those actions is just mindless busywork.

Worse still are the times when the grind relies on a random drop or enemy spawn. Not only do you have to meet an arbitrary quota, every drop or enemy spawn that isn’t what you want becomes an unproductive waste of time.

Now, onto difficulty. Obviously, if you’re going to include combat, it should be challenging enough to not be a bore. That said, it pays to draw a line between what constitutes a challenge and giving the player an aneurysm. Not everyone has the mental fortitude to catapult-launch themselves at the same boss for the fifth time in a row despite still having no idea how to win. Remember, every failed attempt is time spent not making progress towards the thing that you want. This can be especially aggravating in a fetish game, where difficulty can get in the way of what you’re playing the game for.

Finally, there’s the issue of RNG. Now, this can go wrong in all sorts of ways, including what I talked about before regarding random drops or spawns. When it comes to RPG Maker, however, the one that irritates me the most is missing attacks. Although I know that there’s always a chance to miss, it doesn’t make it any less infuriating when I lose a party member to a random trash mob because they missed three times in a row. The first reason this sucks is because these games never give me enough information to plan around missing attacks. Thus, I make decisions based on the assumption that attacks will land. Even if I researched what a character’s miss chance is based on their attributes, there’s no guarantee that the developer didn’t tweak those numbers.

Second, every missed attack drains resources. I lose a turn that I could have spent using an ability, healing up, guarding, or, you know, actually dealing damage like I wanted to. I lose HP that I now need to recover because the enemy gets to have a free hit now. I lose whatever magic or action points I spent on the move that just whiffed. You get the idea.

Given what I’ve talked about, should developers using RPG Maker just remove certain RNG aspects entirely? Is it just a matter of lowering the numbers? What do you all think?

I’m sorry for being so wordy with this, but we’re finally on to the last part. The question of the day is this. Should some RPGs, especially fetish-centric ones, remove combat entirely? If punching slime monsters has nothing to do with the player’s reason for being here, why have them do it? Does a bit of combat offer the necessary variety to keep the game from getting to monotonous? Should developers cut out random scuffles and just focus on a small number of well-crafted combat situations? Please share your thoughts!


#2

I know this is besides the point but FINALLY, someone else who plays Pit People.


#3

But more related to the topic…
If the combat system can somehow work the WG into the battles like in Fatty Text Adventure Game, then yes, battles should be left in. And personally a game without some sort of substance can easily fall flat, and if done properly, battles can easily fill that void, whether predictable (Like how Undertale’s main characters have attack cycles) or random (Like everything else). It’s just a matter of figuring out how to make it work.

One idea I have is to simply just ask the Weight Gaming community what they think of the battle system and just work off their feedback. It’s kinda what we’re here for after all, eheh…


#4

Combat in kink or fetish games can be very distracting, especially if it has nothing to do with the kink/fetish. I’d say that if a developer doesn’t have a way to work the kink or fetish into the combat system, then combat should definitely be removed from the game.

Something similar can be said of most games. If the combat doesn’t add something more than filler to a project, get rid of it, find something else for the player to do. Combat should advance a theme, provide a counterpoint to a theme, interact with other game mechanics non-trivially . . . It needs to do something more than just take time and present an obstacle to advancing the story.

For feedism, this can be done in a bunch of ways. Make the enemies food items, either animated that fight back, or in a much more abstract sense. Make weight gain a core combat mechanic, either providing you with special powers or being something you need to avoid to avance (though I’m less a fan of this last one, since progressing the kink/fetish can lead to a game over). Make feeding a way of attacking the enemy, so that they gain weight, or make it an attack they can take against your characters. Make it possible to eat the enemy (for vore fans, though I’m not a big fan of this, either). Have weight gain in the game cause consequences in combat, either good or bad. High weight could mean that you can’t fight well anymore and have to find some other way around combat encounters. Or have the weight gain give you the ability to roll over the enemy and instantly crush them. Make it a non-trivial part of the story . . . maybe weight nazis are guarding massive food stores and you need to kill them specifically to get to the food stores. I’m sure there are a bunch of other ways to do this.

But, whatever you do, just throwing combat in without carefully considering how it advances the theme or plot of the game will likely just end up causing frustration.

If combat does follow the theme or advance the plot meaningfully for feedism or feedism-related content, then I think that a lot of the issues here become far less problematic. Spending a lot of time in combat becomes a good thing because it’s focusing on weight-gain in a good way. Getting shafted by RNG is okay, because the careful design around themes means that most RNG results should work out well thematically. Unreasonable difficulty may even be fine, depending on how the combat system is designed. For instance, maybe every time you lose a combat, it means your characters come out heavier, and there isn’t really a game-over state here, at least not immediately. Or maybe they mean that your characters come out skinnier, and so combat is a thing to avoid or to learn how to get through.

So, I think that combat, even in fetish/kink games, can be a good thing that works well, but only if it’s put in very deliberately and with care.


#5

@MOP, I agree with you, for the most part. It’s generally preferable if the combat serves the purpose for which I’m playing a given fetish game. However, that doesn’t automatically make it immune to the problems I described. Fattening an enemy into submission is a lot less fun when it involves doing the exact same thing to the exact same enemy for the twentieth time in a row. Remember, in these games, weight-gain content is a means of rewarding the player. A good Skinner box needs some amount of unpredictability, or else the reward stops being enticing.

Regarding what you said about RNG, I’d say that it’s extremely dependent on balancing the player’s expectations, the frequency and effect of random occurrences, and the player’s ability to respond to those occurrences.

I cited Pit People as an example because I feel that it balances these elements brilliantly. In that game, every turn involves numerous random outcomes all happening at once. Between that and the fact that the game discloses the likelihood of all of these as percentages, the player expects that randomness and plans around it. When the player’s strategy doesn’t work out as intended due to RNG, they still have the tools and knowledge to change tactics accordingly. Furthermore, fighters’ durability and incoming damage are balanced such that a stroke of bad luck rarely results in a setback that isn’t both tangible and reasonably manageable.

On the other hand, if you’re playing XCOM and the game says that a soldier’s next shot has a 95% chance to hit, you’ll naturally assume that the 5% miss chance is negligible. If the shot misses, it’s frustrating because the game implicitly told you to expect and plan for a hit. A typical RPG Maker game does the same thing by simply having attacks hit more often than they miss. Thus, the player makes decisions under the assumption that a typical attack will connect. Why tell a teammate to attack if you expect the attack to do nothing? Furthermore, in both of the aforementioned cases, whiffing one or two attacks can open up a party member to a considerable amount of incoming damage. When a bad dice roll punishes the player that severely, it can make them lost faith in the tools at their disposal.


#6

@BlakLite and @MOP said it much more eloquently than I could’ve.

Also, @BlakLite, if you don’t expect me to talk about Pit People in the Dm’s now, you better get ready for it :stuck_out_tongue:


#7

I know that I’m about to risk derailing the conversation, but I think that it’s relevant enough to bring up. My personal experiences and opinions probably don’t represent those of the “average” gamer. I suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome, therefore I have a naturally lower tolerance for frustration than most people. Bearing that in mind, do you think that outliers like me are better off ignored by developers? Should I be more willing to write off a frustrating game as “not for me” and find something else to play? Alternatively, should developers do more to account for cases like me? Should they add options or cheats for those who would benefit from using them? Should they just balance their games to be less frustrating overall?


#8

The easiest solution to this problem would simply be to add difficulty settings, which for most studios wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to add, but for a single person might be too much extra work.


#9

One thing that could be done is making the fighting mostly optional. Oh, keep things like Boss battles, or the stronger minions, but don’t make the grinding mandatory for things like money, or Xp, or even just getting through an area.
Instead, you make the weaker enemies something for the player to seek out. Either in pursuit of rare loot, or extra coin, or the chance to enjoy a particularly fetishy scene. That way, the annoyance level is a bit more in the player’s hand, so to speak.
And instead of leveling up the old fashioned way, Players can get a one time bonus when they defeat the boss, so that they keep par with their foes; so, closer to Metroid or Castlevania than Pokemon.


#10

That sort of reminds me of Kingdom Hearts II’s “Bonus Level” mechanic, separate from its traditional character levels.


#11

This is definitely a tough problem, but one that needs to be considered when it comes to game design, especially when it comes to turn-based systems. I’ve daydreamed a bit about designing games myself, but my ideas always tend to revolve around real-time combat since I personally think turn based systems are more annoying than enjoyable.

I think a major part of that is the random battle thing, which essentially takes you out of whatever actions you’re currently engaging in and locks you into either a life and death struggle or something predictable and monotonous at higher levels. There could be ways around this though, maybe make the battles based on colliding with enemy sprites other than random occurrence. It might even be possible to make turn based mechanics an optional path for combat somehow, sort of like what they did with V.A.T.S. in Fallout, or the whole rollover option at higher weights @MOP mentioned. Problem is though that might involve more work designing two different approaches to combat and might cause players to always choose one over the other.

That said, I think that incorporating fetish elements into the combat does make it more of an enjoyable experience. I really love Fatty Text Adventure and the Unnamed Stuffing RPG, both of which do this, though it’s still not something everyone may enjoy as you point out @BlakLite and can still get grindy at times, fetish or not. Maybe increased enemy variety or fewer battles could sort that out, and I have to say I really like @jak8714 ideas to make enemy encounters optional and have bosses level the player up with items/skills rather than exp. In the end, levelling and experience are just ways to gate the player and give them a sense of achievement/progress, so it’s essentially the same thing.


#12

You mean like Earthbound? We could always use more games that take a page from the Mother/Earthbound book.


#13

Just wanted to toss in that I agree with what BlakLite is saying, generally, and that the #1 way to make RPG combat interesting to me is to do away with random battles entirely. It’s a lot of work to make every encounter a unique little puzzle, especially if you’re trying to make a long, “epic fantasy” style RPG. But it pays off.

The Divinity series involves turn based battles spread out across sprawling maps, and all of them are super different from each other. Even when you’re just fighting wolves, there’s at least an interesting terrain feature you can fuck with, or they get reanimated by shadow goo when they die.

Or, if we’re talking JRPG style, take Undertale (which I should probably try to finish some day <.<) where every combat is against a totally unique enemy and defeating them involves solving their verb matrix while dodging attacks. The trick becomes guiding players through how to solve combats, then, without giving up out of frustration after dying a bunch of times.

Not sure how this applies to kink games, but it’s food for thought.


#14

Or, if we’re talking JRPG style, take Undertale (which I should probably try to finish some day <.<) where every combat is against a totally unique enemy and defeating them involves solving their verb matrix while dodging attacks. The trick becomes guiding players through how to solve combats, then, without giving up out of frustration after dying a bunch of times.

I’m pretty sure that RPG Maker isn’t able to replicate the bullet-hell minigames from Undertale. However, Hungry Elves contains a mechanic in which certain enemies can only be defeated by force-feeding them until they’re too fat to continue fighting. You could probably expand on this by making different enemies weak to certain foods. This could turn combat encounters into interesting puzzles as players try to deduce which foods are effective based on enemy type, flavor text, enemies’ responses to different foods, etc.


#15

Yeah-huh!

In general, though, I think that one’s RPG Maker kink game doesn’t necessarily need combat if its not adding to the experience. Too often people use RPG Maker and just default everything because they lack experience. And the default RPG Maker systems are poorly tuned.


#16

-Theme: Combat is more enjoyable when its an opportunity to see the fetish in action and feel its consequences. A simple fix would be to see your party gain weight in the combat screen or for them to make unique comments and sounds.

-Monotomy: rpg maker games tend to have a simple optimized path for defeating enemies. Players will get bored if they realize the exact same strategy works everytime. If you’re going to have a wide variety of attacks and spells and buffs you need to create scenarios in which players materially benefit from diversifying their strategy.

-Stop padding the game. Nobody needs needs to turn their fetish play into a day long grind. You can pace out the weight gain over time if the mechanics/story for doing so are engaging enough, but dont use boring combat as a way to drip feed the content. Respect the audience’s time and give them the content they came for. More people will finish your game and share it.

Thanks devs for all your hard work so far!


#17

Yeah! I forgot it even did that! Funny enough Delta Rune happened to come out the day after I post that and uses the same Earthbound system.

I kind of just feel like once you reach a certain point, have combat become something easy to avoid altogether, but before that point don’t have it be too invasive. I really like the idea of having characters gain and react in combat as @Full_C suggests, though creating such a system could be time consuming and heavily reliant on asset creation so it’d take a lot of work to pull off well.