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!